Karim Benzema has no place in France national team says French Prime Minister
In what could be interpreted as a big blow to Karim Benzema’s hopes of being part of the 2016 EURO Championships to be held in France, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has said that the striker has ‘no place in the France team’.
The Real Madrid striker is currently embroiled in an alleged blackmail attempt on French national teammate Mathieu Valbuena regarding a sex tape. Benzema has been placed under formal investigation and charged over the scandal.
The Prime Minister has cited that Benzema’s involvement in the scandal has sent a bad message to the countless youngsters that look up to great athletes for inspiration in testing moments, referring to the horrific terror attacks on Paris last month.
"A great athlete should be exemplary. If he is not, he has no place in the France team," Valls told a French radio.
"There are so many kids, so many youngsters in our suburbs that relate to great athletes. They wear the blue jersey, the colours of France, which are so important in these moments."
Benzema also attracted criticism on the social media for spitting on the pitch at the Santiago Bernabeu last month while the French national anthem was on as a tribute to the victims of the terror attacks on the French capital. His lawyers had to douse the situation by condemning the ‘scandolous interpretation of the harmless incident.
The 27-year-old striker, who has scored 27 goals in 81 appearances for Les Bleus, had been considered as a crucial part of the national football setup as France prepare for the Euros to be held next summer in the country. But his chances of taking part at Europe’s premier national level event now appears to be hanging by a thread.
He is a fundamental player for us: Benitez
Real Madrid manager Rafael Benitez has come out in support of the beleaguered striker and has said that Benzema remained an integral part of the squad at the Bernabeu.
"I consider him a fundamental player for us. On a personal level I have said before that he is a great guy and he has our support," said Benitez.
"He is a key player for us because he is a reference up front and makes those around him play even better."
Former France striker Djibril Cisse, who was himself interviewed by the authorities as a part of the investigation into the alleged blackmail scandal, has refused to draw conclusions on Benzema and has said that he was willing to wait for the investigations to unravel the truth behind the incident.
"For the moment he's being investigated but he hasn't been judged and hasn't been found guilty," said Cisse.
"Give him the benefit of the doubt, the time to explain and let justice run its course.”
"Like a lot of French people, I'm waiting to see what he has to say. But I'm not here to savage him and I leave it to the law and the police to decide.”