The French Football Federation (FFP) has suspended Karim Benzema indefinitely from France national team until an investigation into his alleged part in a blackmail and sex tape case involving his team-mate Mathieu Valbuena has been resolved.
The striker, 27, is facing charges of conspiracy to blackmail relating to an alleged extortion plot over a sex tape featuring Valbuena.
The French football federation president, Noël Le Graët, said it was a “heart-breaking” decision, but insisted the Real Madrid forward will remain suspended until the case is resolved
“Today, Karim Benzema is no longer available for selection. It’s a personal decision (of mine), I have informed [coach Didier] Deschamps,” he told a press conference on Thursday.
“Benzema will not be available for selection in March, nor for EURO 2016 if the situation has not evolved.
“The Benzema affair for me hurts, but I am sanctioning him because I am the president of the FFF.
“I would have liked to have had a face to face with him… but the law does not permit me to do so.”
Benzema’s alleged involvement in the plot has not yet been fully determined but investigators believe he was approached by a friend to act as an intermediary and convince Valbuena to deal directly with the alleged blackmailers.
Benzema told police he was advising a friend about what to do in a difficult situation.
But he was handed preliminary charges of complicity in attempted blackmail and participation in a criminal conspiracy by the judge in November.
Last month Valbuena broke his silence on the saga, claiming that Benzema indirectly persuaded him to pay money to prevent the release of a sex tape involving him and his girlfriend.
He told Le Monde that Benzema was not aggressive when contacting him but insisted “that I meet someone” to resolve the matter.
far, The Real Madrid forward has denied any wrongdoing but if found guilty, could face a minimum of five years in prison.