Mathieu Valbuena has made his first public comments regarding the sex tape blackmail plot his French teammate Karim Benzema allegedly organized against him.
Benzema, who plays for Real Madrid as well as the French national team, was arrested earlier this month and charged with conspiracy to blackmail and participating in a criminal group. Benzema allegedly blackmailed Valbuena by offering to withhold an “incriminating sex tape” from the public in exchange for money.
In the French newspaper Le Monde, Valbuena spoke about the details of Benzema’s extortion attempts and how surprised he was that his teammate was involved in the scheme.
“There comes a time when you can’t defend the indefensible. I wouldn’t even do that to my worst enemy,” Valbuena said, according to the Associated Press. “When I went to the first hearing I couldn’t imagine that Karim was involved in this. I can only feel very, very, very let down and now realize that my relationship with Karim wasn’t as sincere as he may claim.”
Valbuena took legal action after he was contacted by the blackmailers. In the Le Monde story, he recounted how Benzema attempted to convince him to take a meeting with the blackmailers, one of which is believed to be a childhood friend of Benzema.
“He told me several times that I was dealing with ‘some serious thugs.’ He told me ‘I know that if it was me, with my family and everything ... you’d need to be strong,’” Valbuena said. “OK, he also said ‘If you don’t want to, leave them to it, no problem. But I can introduce you to my friend.’ It always came back to that. I’m more than disappointed. It’s quite simply a lack of respect. You don’t behave like that with anybody. At the end, when I was just leaving, Karim said ‘So what do I do? Shall I give him your number?’”
Benzema has denied any wrongdoing, despite the recent release of a transcript of a phone call between him and friend in which they discuss the extortion plan.
“What he said shows a lack of respect,” Valbuena said of the transcript. “I respect everyone, but I get the impression I’ve been taken for an idiot.”
On Friday, Benzema’s lawyer said he and his client were unphased by Valbuena’s comments in the newspaper story, and advised Benzema to respond “to show that he is not the man he's portrayed to be.”
Benzema, 27, has also faced litigation in an underage sex case, but all charges were dropped last year.