Top footballer charged with underage sex
Franck Ribery, a member of the French national soccer team, was charged with having sex with an underage prostitute yesterday after being held for questioning by police.
Real Madrid star Karim Benzema was also questioned by police yesterday.
Last night, Ribery's lawyer, Sophie Bottai, said the footballer didn't know the prostitute wasn't 18. French police had postponed the hearings at the headquarters of the Paris vice squad until after the World Cup.
Ribery was France's most popular player before the World Cup fiasco, in which France were eliminated in the first round. He took part in a revolt by players who boycotted a training session before their final game.
French media have suggested the players were clients of a nightclub in Paris' posh Champs-Elysees district that allegedly featured escorts, including the under-18 girl at the centre of the affair.
Ribery, who plays his club football at Bayern Munich, was questioned in April about his ties with the boss of an escort girls' network, according to his lawyer. The player himself has made no comment.
Real Madrid striker Benzema's agent has previously said his client had never been to that nightclub, and the player himself told French TV he had done nothing wrong.
The scandal, which gripped France ahead of the World Cup, took a new twist in late April when the young woman at the centre of the case gave an interview to 'Paris Match' magazine, implicating several footballers and denying being a prostitute.
France striker Sidney Govou, who has just moved from Lyon to Panathinaikos of Greece, was also questioned by police in April about the incident.