Sunday 18 August 2019

Mathieu Valbuena and Karim Benzema omitted by France amid blackmail scandal

Real Madrid's French striker Karim Benzema leaves the court house in Versailles, near Paris
Real Madrid's French striker Karim Benzema leaves the court house in Versailles, near Paris

Mathieu Valbuena and Karim Benzema have been left out of France's squad to face Germany and England this month.

Coach Didier Deschamps has opted for the first time in his reign not to select Lyon playmaker Valbuena after admitting the player is not in the right mental condition due to the blackmail scandal currently surrounding him.

Benzema was interviewed by French police on Wednesday and Thursday in relation to an alleged sex-tape involving Valbuena.

Benzema's lawyer Sylvain Cormier protested his client's innocence, telling reporters outside the hearing in a video shown on "Karim Benzema will clear his name in this matter and, I hope, as soon as possible. His heart goes out to his friend Mathieu Valbuena."

A condition of the Real Madrid striker's release was that he cannot have any contact with the other people charged or with Valbuena, but Deschamps insists his absence is down to an ongoing thigh injury.

"Regarding Karim, he was not ready physically," Deschamps said at a press conference broadcast on the French Football Federation's official website.

"I chose to leave out Karim after speaking to him on Monday. He has not started training with Real Madrid after his injury.

"Concerning the police case, I have no knowledge of the matter. I will leave the police to deal with it."

The case has seen Valbuena left out, though, with Deschamps stressing: "It is my decision to leave Mathieu Valbuena out of the squad.

"Mathieu has not been performing as well with Lyon, but you understand that he is not in the best condition psychologically because of this business.

"I will give him some breathing space for these two games."

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