Real Madrid's Karim Benzema Gets 1-Year Suspended Prison Sentence in Sex-Tape Trial

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVNovember 24, 2021

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema chases the ball during a Group D Champions League soccer match between Real Madrid and Shakhtar Donetsk at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
AP Photo/Manu Fernandez

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema was given a one-year suspended prison sentence Wednesday for his role in the blackmailing of former France international teammate Mathieu Valbuena.

Per ESPN's Alex Kirkland and Rodrigo Faez, a court in Versailles, France, found Benzema guilty of "complicity" after he allegedly acted as a middleman for people attempting to blackmail Valbuena with a sex tape found on his phone in 2015.

Benzema, who was also fined $84,000, will appeal the verdict, according to his lawyer.

Axel Angot, Mustapha Zouaoui, Younes Houass and Karim Zenati were the other four men said to be involved in the blackmail attempt, with Zenati alleged to have brought in childhood friend Benzema.

Prosecutors said Benzema helped the group blackmail Valbuena about the sex tape during training camp for the French national team in October 2015, but Benzema said he was trying to warn Valbuena to "be careful" with the "serious criminals" who were trying to extort money from him.

Angot, Zouaoui, Houass and Zenati were handed varying prison sentences that ranged to as much as two-and-a-half years.

Since Benzema's sentence is suspended, it is likely he will go on probation and not serve time in prison, provided he satisfies the terms of the probation.

The 33-year-old Benzema has played for Real Madrid since 2009 and has earned 94 caps for the French national team, although he didn't play for France for nearly six years after the blackmail case's early stages began. 

He returned to the squad in June ahead of the delayed Euro 2020 tournament, where he finished as the joint-second top goalscorer with four goals in a French campaign that ended in the round of 16.

Valbuena, 37, has played for Olympiacos since 2019 and has made 52 French national team appearances, but none since the start of the blackmail case in 2015.