French striker, Karim Benzema has blasted national team manager, Didier Deschamps, saying he “bowed to the pressure of a racist part of France” to leave him out of the Euro 2016 squad.
The Frenchman who said this in an interview with Marca Sports Daily on Wednesday, believes Deschamps was racist in excluding him from the team.
Benzema, 28, who is of Algerian origin, was excluded from France’s squad by the French Football Federation (FFF) after being charged with involvement in an attempt to blackmail France teammate Mathieu Valbuena over a sextape, and he is currently being placed under criminal investigation.
The FFF president, Noël Le Graët, insisted it was important for the sake of “strong harmony” within the squad that the 28-year-old was not involved.
“He has bowed to the pressure of a racist part of France,” Benzema told Marca.
“He has to know that in France the extremist party reached the second round in the last two elections. I do not know, therefore, whether it is a decision only for Didier because I’ve gotten along with him, with the president (of the French Football Federation) and everyone.”
“They said I cannot be selected, fine. But on a sporting level, I don’t understand why,” added Benzema.
“At the judicial level, I have not been judged. I am not guilty, so we have to wait to see what the justice says.
“I like football and to play with my team. The only person who knows what happened in this affair, who knows the truth, is Valbuena, he played a role, he has not told the truth. I wanted to help him, nothing more, and the whole thing blew up in my face.”
Questions about the motives for excluding Benzema and fellow striker Hatem Ben Arfa, whose father was a Tunisian international, have been raised by French and Manchester United football legend Eric Cantona, sparking off a new racism debate.