Real Madrid and France forward Karim Benzema has been ruled out for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar because of a thigh injury, per Le Parisien.
The news comes after Benzema was ruled out for France's first group stage match against Australia on Tuesday. Le Parisien previously reported there was doubt about his participation for the remainder of the competition.
Fabrizio Romano @FabrizioRomano
“In my life I have never given up… but tonight I have to think of the team as I have always done so reason tells me to leave my place to someone who can help our group to make a great world cup. Thank you for all your messages of support”.<br><br>Karim Benzema. <a href="https://t.co/uKC1upPMWX">pic.twitter.com/uKC1upPMWX</a>
Losing Benzema is a tough blow for the French team, which is already without Paul Pogba, N'Golo Kanté, Boubacar Kamara, Presnel Kimpembe and Christopher Nkunku because of injuries. Raphaël Varane's status is also in question because of injury.
However, the team still boasts a talented roster that includes Kylian Mbappé, Olivier Giroud, Kingsley Coman, Ousmane Dembélé, Aurélien Tchouaméni and Eduardo Camavinga, among others, that will surely see it out of the group stage.
Benzema had been dealing with knee and hamstring injuries through the first half of the 2022-23 club season with Real Madrid and hasn't played since a Nov. 2 group stage win over Celtic in the UEFA Champions League.
The 34-year-old had been participating in a personalized training program developed by the French national team in the leadup to the World Cup, doing drills separately from his Les Bleus teammates since they arrived in Qatar on Nov. 16.
Benzema, the 2022 Ballon d'Or winner, was not a member of the 2018 French team that won the World Cup in Russia and was hoping to help lead Les Blues to another world title this year.
Unfortunately, Benzema will now have to wait until the 2026 World Cup in North America to get his shot at winning a World Cup with France, though at that point he'll be 38. In 97 total appearances for the country, he has tallied 37 goals.
France opens the 2022 World Cup on Tuesday at Al Janoub Stadium against Australia. Didier Deschamps has until Monday to call up a replacement for Benzema.
France would become the first nation to win back-to-back titles since Brazil in 1958 and 1962 if they win this year's World Cup in Qatar.