Striker Karim Benzema was suspended indefinitely by the French national team amid an ongoing sex tape blackmail scandal, it was announced at a France football federation press conference Thursday.
The news comes in the wake of Benzema’s arrest on Nov. 4. The Real Madrid and France star was charged with conspiracy to blackmail and participating in a criminal group for allegedly offering to withhold an “incriminating sex tape” of teammate Mathieu Valbuena from the public in exchange for money.
Benzema, 27, will now miss France’s two friendly matches in March before the European Championships in June, and could also be ruled out for Euro 2016 as coach Didier Deschamps is set to name his squad in May.
“If the situation doesn’t change then he won’t be selected,” France soccer federation president Le Graet said. “I leave a glimmer of hope if the case changes....My wish is that this case diminishes and that these two France players can shake hands.”
Throughout the investigation, Benzema, France’s best scorer, has maintained his innocence.
Real Madrid, which has not disciplined the player, issued a statement Thursday regarding Benzema’s suspension.
“Real Madrid C. F. regrets, but respects the decision taken today by the French Football Federation to provisionally suspend Karim Benzema from the France national team, and wishes to reiterate once more its support for and confidence in the player.”