The president of the French Football Federation (FFF) spoke Wednesday regarding Karim Benzema and his alleged involvement in a plot to blackmail fellow national team player Mathieu Valbuena.
"Maybe I have protected Karim excessively in this matter, but I really like him and we all make mistakes," said Noel Le Graet in an interview with Paris Breizh Media (h/t Teamtalk via Fox Soccer). "He got carried away by stupidity in this case. He has been stupid like a donkey. But I don't believe in lecturing people."
Benzema remains suspended from the national team and could miss out on the 2016 European Championships, which are being held in France starting in June.
French authorities are continuing to investigate Benzema's alleged role in an extortion plot aimed at Valbuena. According to Angelique Chrisafis of the Guardian, a childhood friend of Benzema's contacted the Real Madrid striker to approach Valbuena as a middle man in the extortion attempt, which centered around a sex tape involving Valbuena.
In an interview with L'Equipe (via Spanish paper AS), Valbuena's lawyer, Didier Domat, said his client would be willing to play with Benzema if necessary.
"Nothing has changed," Domat said. "It shouldn't be forgotten that Mathieu put the interests of the France national team ahead of his own."
Even if Benzema's suspension is lifted between now and the Euros, national team coach Didier Deschamps has final say over his team selection.
Given the way off-field drama has often spilled over to France's on-field performance at recent tournaments, Deschamps will likely want to avoid letting this become a divisive issue in his quad, even if it means leaving Valbuena and/or Benzema off the roster.