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Karim Benzema Cleared to Play for France at Euro 2016 Amid Mathieu Valbuena Case

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2016

NICE, FRANCE - OCTOBER 8: Karim Benzema of France gets injured 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

Karim Benzema could be allowed to play for France at Euro 2016 after the lifting of some legal restrictions made him eligible to be part of the squad at their home tournament in the summer.

Per Angelique Chrisafis in the Guardian, Benzema is under investigation in relation to an alleged plot to blackmail his national team-mate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex-tape. 

Part of the investigation had included restrictions on Benzema, 28, contacting Valbuena, meaning they could not be in the same squad, but they have now been lifted by an appeals court, per BBC Sport.

As noted by French football writer Julien Laurens, the decision vastly improves Benzema's chances of making the France squad for the 2016 European Championship, which starts on June 10:

Julien Laurens @LaurensJulien

Huge development in the sextape scandal: the judge has lifted Karim Benzema's legal restrictions. Big boost towards him going to Euros.

However, Benzema remains suspended by the French national team, a ban that was initially set to stay in place until the end of court proceedings, per BBC's report.

France manager Didier Deschamps has previously indicated, though, that he would be happy for Benzema to return to the squad in the right circumstances, per the Independent's Tom Sheen:

It would need my president to decide (he can play) and for the law to give a positive answer as well. 

If I found myself in that situation, I would consider it and make my decision. Things can change. From a sporting point of view, I want to have the best team and therefore the best players. But in this case, there is also a judicial panel. We have to see how things develop.

On playing merit, Benzema undoubtedly deserves his place in the France squad as he is arguably the best striker Deschamps has available to him, along with Lyon's Alexandre Lacazette.

He top-scored for the French at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014, netting three times and providing two assists in five games, per BBC Sport.

However, the French hierarchy will have to make a decision on his eligibility now that the legal restrictions on him have been lifted.

While the quality of their squad would undoubtedly be increased by having him in it, there are other matters to consider in this situation.

Per Chrisafis, Benzema denies any wrongdoing but is still being investigated for his alleged role in attempting to extort Lyon's Valbuena. 

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