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Karim Benzema Case: Latest on Alleged Sex-Tape Blackmail of Mathieu Valbuena

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured Columnist

NICE, FRANCE - OCTOBER 8: Karim Benzema of France looks on during the international friendly match between France and Armenia at Allianz Riviera stadium on October 8, 2015 in Nice, France. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

Real Madrid and France striker Karim Benzema was charged on Nov. 5 as part of an investigation into the alleged blackmail of international team-mate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape.

Investigators are trying to establish whether a conversation that took place between Benzema and Valbuena "was simply friendly advice or part of the plot," per L'Equipe on Nov. 4 (via Kim Willsher of the Guardian).

Continue for updates.


Valbuena Comments on Potentially Playing With Benzema

Sunday, Jan. 10

"Of course [I can play with Benzema], anything is possible," Valbuena told TF1, via David Manuca of Goal.com. "There's no problem."


Benzema Denied Request to Meet with Valbuena

Monday, Jan. 4

The Associated Press (h/t Fox Sports) reported the investigating judge denied Benzema's request to meet with Valbuena, a meeting Benzema's lawyers hoped "would ease tensions" between the players.

On Dec. 7, according to RMC (h/t Get French Football), Benzema's lawyers submitted an official request for the striker to meet with his team-mate.


Benzema Suspended from France Squad

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Thursday, Dec. 10

Agence France-Presse confirmed the French Football Federation's decision to ban Benzema from representing the country.

ESPN FC's Jonathan Johnson tweeted further details: "[FFF President Noel] Le Graet also says if situation does not develop before pre-Euro 2016 friendlies [and] actual tournament, Benzema suspension will still stand."


Benzema Comments on Deschamps and France Career Amid Allegations

Sunday, Dec. 6

"He is behind me, supporting me," Benzema said of France boss Didier Deschamps in an interview with TF1, per Telefoot (h/t GFN), adding:

The European Championships are a big thing. I dream of playing in them like everybody else because not only are they the European Championships but they are in France as well. There you have it. Scared? No, I hope that things will quickly get back in order. And that I can participate in these European Championships.

The Real Madrid striker told TF1 on Dec. 2 he felt "like a criminal," before reaffirming his innocence, per AS: "I hope that things work out. I’m not guilty. This will work out well for Valbuena, for my friend and for me."


French Prime Minister Comments on Benzema's France Future

Tuesday, Dec. 1

“A great athlete should be exemplary. … If he is not, he has no place within the France team,” Manuel Valls said of Benzema on the Europe 1 radio station, per the Associated Press (via New Europe).

Valls' comments came after questions were raised in mid-November over Benzema's inclusion in the France squad ahead of Euro 2016, per Hugh Schofield of BBC Sport.


Nasri Responds to Valbuena After Being Dragged into Blackmail Allegations

Friday, Nov. 27

According to Le Monde, per Get French Football, Valbuena said nothing would surprise him after Manchester City's Samir Nasri was cited as a potential intermediary in the sex-tape case. Nasri's response was emphatic:

Honestly I do not give a s--t about this sex-tape story. It is not my problem, not my situation. If he wants to mix it all together because I know people who have been cited and if he is saying that I wanted to be implicated, it is his right to think that.

In any case, he has no right to dirty my name or to cite it if I am nowhere. He could have seen that there was not a single wiretap that concerned me. I do [not] speak to the people concerned.


Valbuena Comments on Benzema Conversation Amid Ongoing Investigation

Friday, Nov. 27

"He was not aggressive in his manner of talking, he did not talk about money concretely, directly. But when someone insists that I meet someone ... hmmmm," Valbuena told Le Monde, per AFP (h/t the Malaysian Insider).

"I have never met anyone who is going to destroy a video for free just because they love me! You shouldn't treat people like idiots," he continued.

"I am very very very disappointed and I can only note that my relations with Karim were not as sincere as he makes out."


Benzema's Lawyer to File Complaint Over 'Leaked' Phone Conversation

Tuesday, Nov. 10

Sylvain Cormier, confirmed his client "will lodge a complaint for violation of judicial confidentiality," per Reuters.

The move came after French radio network Europe 1 released details of an alleged phone conversation between Benzema and a childhood friend, during which Benzema appeared to imply he warned Valbuena over the sex tape, per Football Espana:

“[Valbuena] isn’t taking things seriously. He thinks it’s a joke,” [Benzema] allegedly began.

“I told [Valbuena]: ‘I’ll sort it out, but you have to see this guy. You have my word that there won’t be any more copies.’

“[I also told him that] if you want the video to be destroyed then my friend will come to see you in Lyon and you can speak directly with him.

“[Quoting Valbuena], but are my tattoos seen in the video? [Benzema replies] you see everything.

“You can do what you want. If you don’t want to pay then [OK], it’s your life but I warned you.

“[Benzema’s childhood friend speaking to the striker], we’re here to sort things out.

“If he doesn’t want to do anything then leave it. The piranhas [extortionists] will sort it.

“Perhaps you could ask for a couple of tickets to a game or something?”


Real Madrid Provide Benzema Support

Thursday, Nov. 5

"The Real Madrid C.F. president, Florentino Perez, held a meeting with the player in which he gave him his full support and expressed his confidence that his actions were in good faith and that he is completely innocent," stated an official release from the club. It continued:

The club values and recognises the professional commitment, the displays of camaraderie with his team-mates and the impeccable attitude he has shown as a core member of the first team squad for the more than six seasons that he has been a part of Real Madrid.


Benzema Charged and Banned from Seeing Valbuena

Thursday, Nov. 5

Tom Williams of AFP Sports confirmed Benzema had been "charged with 'complicity in an attempt to blackmail' and conspiring to commit a criminal act." He is now "banned from meeting fellow international Mathieu Valbuena," according to AFP Sport.

According to AFP (via Eurosport's Tom Adams), Benzema was "referred to the investigating judge in the Versailles courthouse" after facing police questioning following his arrest.

Adams also relayed the comments of a public prosecutor:

Karim Benzema was taken to the courthouse to be brought before a judge who will decide later on in the procedure. The judge will decide at the end of this presentation the status of Karim Benzema in the procedure, particularly his possible indictment or his placement under the status of assisted witness.

Benzema could face up to five years in prison if he is found guilty of involvement in a blackmail plot.

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