Nightclub sex scandal draws in two more football stars
Pair to be quizzed in prostitute probe
Published 21/04/2010 | 05:00
A SEX scandal that has tainted France's international football team deepened yesterday when two more players were dragged into an underage prostitution investigation.
Karim Benzema, a Real Madrid forward who has been linked with a possible €45m transfer to Manchester United, and Hatem Ben Arfa (23), a striker with Marseilles, are expected to be questioned as "witnesses" in the inquiry, according to an unnamed judicial source.
Franck Ribery (27) and Sidney Govou (30) have already been summoned before an examining judge, following allegations that the Cafe Zaman, a nightclub on the Champs-Elysees, employed underage prostitutes.
About 20 girls were arrested in a swoop just over a week ago. It has been shut by the authorities and four men alleged to be involved with a prostitution ring have been arrested and charged.
Ribery, a Bayern Munich midfielder and star of the French national team, could face charges for having sexual relations with a 17-year-old Moroccan woman.
A judicial source in Paris said that Ribery had admitted sleeping with the prostitute "on several occasions" last year but that he was unaware she was underage when they first met.
Prostitution is legal in France, but those offering sex for money must be at least 18. Having sexual relations with an underage prostitute is an offence that carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a €45,000 fine.
Ribery had been tipped for a summer transfer to Real Madrid. Commentators suggested he may now reconsider a move to Chelsea, which he had recently rejected.
Ribery's lawyer has denied any wrongdoing by her client.
Sophie Bottai said: "This affair does not concern my client and could only, in the worst case, involve his private life alone."Arfa also yesterday strenuously denied any link with the investigation. "It's not me, 100 per cent," he told 'L'Equipe TV', a sports TV channel. His lawyer said he had received no summons by any magistrate.
Lawyers for Benzema and Govou also denied any wrongdoing by their clients. (© Daily Telegraph, London)