Real Madrid’s star striker Karim Benzema has emerged as the 2022 Ballon d’Or winner recently. We all know how much the French international deserved it. Karim played a pivotal role in Real Madrid’s 21/22 UEFA Champions League win. Together with that, he also scored multiple hat-tricks against the likes of PSG and Chelsea.
— Ballon d’Or #ballondor (@francefootball) October 17, 2022
Despite being an absolute force for Madrid, Benzema has always been quite absent from the France National team. He made his debut for the country in 2007 when he was just 19, but has only managed to feature in 97 games across all competitions till now. The main reason for that would be quite bizarre.
Karim Benzema was involved in an extortion scandal back in 2015
Benzema was once in the headlines for something unusual a while ago. According to various reports, he was involved in an extortion scandal. The reports mentioned that the player allegedly was involved in blackmail that involved his then-national teammate Mathieu Valbuena.
Valbuena immediately filed a case in court when he found out that a sexually explicit tape of his was involved. According to the prosecutors, the blackmailers wanted Benzema to be part of the crime. It is said that they told Benzema to encourage his France teammate to pay the blackmailers. When the scandal first appeared to the world, the French Football Federation (FFF) immediately removed both players from the team roster.
Mathieu told reporters, “I felt in danger and my instinct was to file a complaint. Football is my life. I knew that if this video came out it was going to be difficult for me with the French team.” In addition to that, the player also claimed that Benzema wanted him to speak with his friend, Karim Zenati.
“When he told me he wanted to talk to me, I did not think he would talk to me about that. When I had that conversation, I came out of the room, I was shocked. I felt that he insisted that I meet with a person who was to act as an intermediary. His trusted person. He was very insistent.” However, Benzema tried to clarify that he did not commit any crime and that he was just trying to help his teammate.
A French court ended the case by finding Benzema guilty of “complicity” in 2021
After France manager Didier Deschamps decided to remove Benzema from the team, the player chose to publicly call his manager out. He told MARCA, “No, I don’t think so but he has bowed to pressure from a racist part of France. You have to know that an extremist party reached the second round in the last two elections in France. I don’t know, therefore, if the decision was only Didier’s because I have got on well with him and with the president.”The case was investigated till 2021 and was on trial last year. In addition to that, A French court based in Versailles passed a verdict against Karim Benzema as well. The court found the 5x Champions League winner guilty of “complicity” in the blackmail scandal of Mathieu Valbuena. Moreover, Benzema received a fine of about USD 74,000 (€75,000), together with a 1-year prison sentence.
The former Lyon star did not spend time in jail as it was a suspended sentence, meaning he would only be jailed if he committed crimes related to the same charges in the 1-year time frame. Moreover, Benzema did make his way back into the France team last year.
He played 4 games for them in Euro 2020 and ended the tournament with 4 goals after getting knocked out by Switzerland in the Round Of 16 on penalties. On the other hand, Valbuena hasn’t played for France since the scandal. He currently plays as a midfielder for Olympiacos in Greece.