Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has reportedly conceded he lied to his France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena about seeing a sex tape at the centre of an alleged blackmail scandal.
According to Le Parisien, which quoted sections of the player’s hearing last month (h/t Reuters’ Julien Pretot via the Daily Mirror), Benzema told a judge that he wasn’t being completely honest when speaking to the Lyon midfielder about the video, which is said to show Valbuena.
“I should have told him I had not seen it," Benzema reportedly said. ”I was showing off, I was acting...It's like when you describe a movie you have not seen. I have never seen that video”
As noted by the aforementioned report, Valbuena himself is claimed to have told a judge in November Benzema “swore on his daughter's life” that he’d watched the video.
Benzema was charged in November having allegedly been involved in a plot against Valbuena over the clip, with investigators said to be seeking to determine whether a discussion between the pair was “friendly advice or part of the plot," per L’Equipe (h/t Kim Willsher of the Guardian).
With the investigation into the suspected blackmail ongoing, Benzema has been suspended indefinitely from playing for the French national side, per BBC Sport. That means he could miss the European Championships set to be staged in his home country later this year.
Valbuena told TF1 (h/t David Manuca of Goal) that he’d have “no problem” playing alongside Benzema at Euro 2016 if his sanctions were lifted.
Both players have been mainstays of the national side under the tutelage of manager Didier Deschamps; Benzema and Valbuena have represented France 81 and 50 times, respectively.
Benzema has starred for Real Madrid this season, scoring 19 goals in 18 La Liga appearances. Valbuena is part of a Lyon side seeking to push up the Ligue 1 table during the run-in; he’s netted one goal and notched four assists in the French top flight this term.