Karim Benzema has no trouble adjusting again as he is embraced by French teammates after shock recall
Karim Benzema has no trouble adjusting again as he is embraced by French team-mates following the shock of the Euro 2020 recall after six years of exile following an alleged sex tape blackmail scandal
Karim Benzema appears to have no problem with his French team-mates hugging him in training as Euro 2020 marks his return to the squad after a six-year exile.
The 33-year-old striker has been sidelined by manager Didier Deschamps since 2015 after his alleged role in the blackmail of former French team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.
But Benzema was recalled to the French squad for this summer’s European Championship after good form for club Real Madrid, with the veteran striker insisting he never gave up hopes of playing for France.
Karim Benzema received a shock recall for Euro 2020 six years after being pushed aside
His exile came over his alleged role in the blackmail on Mathieu Valbuena’s sex tape
His national teammates showed that there is no problem with Benzema when they hugged him during practice
As part of their training ahead of their opener against Germany on June 15, his team-mates showed there was no problem with the striker.
In a video posted by the French national team, Benzema places the ball in an empty net during an exhibition game and is festively pounced on by seven other members of the squad.
The video shows no suggestion of ill-feeling towards the striker after his exile over the alleged sex tape scandal.
Benzema made his first appearances in the Les Bleus shirt during the country’s 3-0 win over Wales on Wednesday.
The Real Madrid striker is expected to play a big role 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 initially putting him aside, said there were 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 to them, it’s a non-topic.
“If I made this decision to bring him back, that’s good, because I measured there was no problem. I have always acted in the interest of the French team. The team is above everything else.’
Benzema is suspected of encouraging Valbuena to work with blackmailers, who threatened to release an intimate video showing him.
Investigators who accused 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 came out, Benzema faced heavy criticism and then Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the striker had “no place” in the national team. He was unable to restore relations and return to his country until his recall earlier this summer.
It is understood that Benzema will stand trial from October 20 to October 22 of this year and he denies any wrongdoing and four other people will also stand trial in the case.
The Real Madrid striker insists he regrets his incident involving Valbuena but always believed he would get a national call-up.
France wants to follow their World Cup success by winning Euro 2020 this summer
Benzema told a press conference last week: “I have always believed in it, I never gave up, otherwise I would not be here. I was very disappointed, it was morally difficult.
“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 am rewarded.’
‘There are always regrets. I want to say that what happened, happened. There are always regrets, but you can’t go back.
“The most important thing for me is what you’ve done on the football field, I’m fully focused on what I can bring to this team. This is what I have in mind as an ambition.’
The striker concluded his press conference by confirming that he had already spoken to Deschamps about his return and drawing a line under the scandal.
Benzema returned to basics in France’s 3-0 win over Wales
When asked to thank the French boss for bringing him back, Benzema joked, “I think I already told him. Do you want me to say it here? Thanks 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 starting their European Championships a week later in a tricky group that also includes Germany, Portugal and Hungary.
Benzema hopes to help France complete a double World Cup and European Championships after winning their second trophy in the global tournament in 2018.