Karim Benzema has no issues fitting back in as he is embraced by French team-mates after shock Euro 2020 recall following six years of exile over alleged sex-tape blackmail scandal
Karim Benzema seems to have no problems with his French team-mates who embraced him in training as Euro 2020 marks his return to the squad following a six-year exile.
The 33-year-old striker had been cast aside by manager Didier Deschamps since 2015 following his alleged role in the sex-tape blackmail of former France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.
But Benzema was recalled to the French squad for this summer’s European Championships after some good form for club side Real Madrid, with the experienced forward insisting he never gave up hope of playing for France again.
Karim Benzema received a shock recall for Euro 2020 six years after he was cast aside
His exile came over his alleged role in the sex-tape blackmail of Mathieu Valbuena
His national team-mates showed there’s no issue with Benzema as they embraced him in training
As part of their training ahead of their opener against Germany on June 15, his team-mates showed that there was no issue with the striker.
In a video posted by the French national team, Benzema places the ball into an empty net during a practice match and is jumped on in celebration by seven other members of the squad.
The video shows no suggestion of ill-feeling towards the striker following his exile due to the alleged sex-tape scandal.
Benzema made his first appearances in the Les Bleus shirt during the country’s 3-0 victory over Wales on Wednesday.
The Real Madrid striker is expected to play a big part for France this summer, as they enter the tournament as one of the favourites.
In a press conference, Deschamps who made the decision to recall Benzema after originally casting him aside, said that there was no problems with the striker and his national team-mates.
He said: ‘I say it in all sincerity, he was with these players in this jersey, or in a club. He had the opportunity to speak with them, it’s a non-topic.
‘If I made this decision to bring him back, it’s good because I measured that there was no problem. I have always acted in the interest of the France team. The team is above everything.’
Benzema is suspected of encouraging Valbuena to co-operate with blackmailers, who threatened to release an intimate video in which he featured.
Investigators who charged Benzema believe he was approached by a childhood friend to act as an intermediary and convince Valbuena to deal directly with the blackmailers. Instead, Valbuena informed the police.
When the story broke, Benzema faced intense criticism and then-Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the striker had ‘no place’ in the national team. He had been unable to repair relations and return for his country until his recall earlier this summer.
It is understood that Benzema will go on trial from October 20 to October 22 this year and he denies any wrongdoing and four other people will also stand trial in the case.
The Real Madrid striker maintains that there are regrets from his incident involving Valbuena but that he never stopped believing that he was going to receive a national call-up.
France are looking to follow off their World Cup success by winning Euro 2020 this summer
Benzema told a press conference last week: ‘I never stopped believing it, I never gave up, otherwise I wouldn’t be here. I was very disappointed, it was morally hard.
‘There were a lot of obstacles, it’s part of my career, I’ve always fought, and that’s what it takes to hope to come back. I’m rewarded.’
‘There are always regrets. I want to say that what happened has happened. There are always regrets, but you can’t go back.
‘What matters most to me is what you have done on the football field, I am focused to the max on what I can bring to this team. This is what I have in my head as ambition.’
The striker ended his press conference by confirming he had already spoken to Deschamps about his return and drawing a line under the scandal.
Benzema made his return to the starting line-up in France’s 3-0 victory over Wales
When asked to say thank you to the France boss for bringing him back in, Benzema joked: ‘I think I already told him. You want me to say it here? Thank you Didier.
‘We have already had a discussion, it has been said. I’m super happy to be here.’
France have a final friendly against Bulgaria on Tuesday before they start their European Championships one week later in a tough group which also involves Germany, Portugal and Hungary.
Benzema will be hoping to help France complete a World Cup and European Championships double after they lifted their second trophy in the global tournament back in 2018.