Benzema ruled out of France’s Euro 2016 squad

Paris, April 14 (IANS) Striker Karim Benzema will not be called to play for his country when they host the Euro 2016 tournament this summer, the French Football Federation (FFF) has confirmed.

The tournament will be held from June 10 to July 10.

“Athletic performance is an important factor but not exclusive criterion for deciding the France football selection,” read a statement released on Wednesday.

The statement was released after the FFF president Noel Le Graet and the France coach Didier Deschamps met on Wednesday to discuss Benzema’s situation, reports Xinhua.

“The ability of players to work towards unity, in and around the squad, and to be exemplary are also taken into account. As a result, Noel Le Graet and Didier Deschamps decided that Karim Benzema will not participate in Euro 2016.”

Earlier, the 28-year-old striker confirmed it through network ahead of the FFF release.

“Unfortunately for me and for those who have always backed me and supported me, I will not be selected for our Euro in France,” Benzema revealed on his Twitter account on Wednesday.

He also wrote on his Facebook page, saying that “Whatever happens… Once a Blue, always a Blue!”

The star forward was just freed of his legal restrictions over his alleged involvement in teammate Mathieu Valbuena’s sex tape case one month ago, which was considered to have paved the way for Benzema to play for the national team.

Earlier last November, a French judge placed Benzema under formal investigation as he was accused of blackmailing fellow French international Valbuena over a sex tape.

Both players were omitted from the national squad just an hour after Benzema was charged, while Benzema was not allowed to come into contact with Valbuena.

Benzema has admitted approaching Valbuena about the sex tape “on behalf of a childhood friend” who himself had been contacted by blackmailers, but denied any wrongdoing. If convicted, he would serve up to five years.

As part of the France side that lifted the European Under-17 Championship 12 years ago, Benzema has represented his country on 81 occasions with 27 goals and was a key part of the squad for last year’s World Cup in Brazil.

He has won the La Liga and the Champions League with Real Madrid and has twice won the Copa del Rey, and he won four Ligue 1 titles and a Coupe de France with Olympique Lyon before joining the Spanish giants in 2009.

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