Karim Benzema’s court trial in Versailles begins this Wednesday, the day after the player faces Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League. The Real Madrid striker has been summoned to the French court over his alleged involvement in the attempted blackmail of Mathieu Valbuena in 2015.
His lawyers have been trying to clear Benzema’s name ever since then, always insisting that the player’s involvement in the incident was a misunderstanding and that he was trying to help Valbuena.
Benzema has always claimed that he hadn’t seen the supposed sex tape. He has said that it was Karim Zenati, a childhood friend and intermediary to the blackmailers, who confirmed to him that it existed and was serious, at which point he spoke to his France international teammate.
“At first, I just wanted Mathieu to be aware of the issue and help him because they’d done something to me in the same way,” Benzema explained. “He is someone who I played with for France and is a friend.”
Yet, French prosecutors have called Benzema to trial and a potential five-year prison sentence and fine of 75,000 euros is the punishment that the Real Madrid player faces if found guilty.
His lawyers haven’t yet confirmed if he’ll attend the court in Versailles in person on Wednesday, with the trial to take place between the Shakhtar Donetsk game and El Clasico.
Benzema’s return to the France national team
This trial comes in the year when Benzema finally returned to the French national team. After the Valbuena incident in 2015, the striker was never called up by Didier Deschamps and his image was tarnished in his home country.
Yet, the forward received a second chance with Les Bleus as Deschamps changed his mind ahead of Euro 2020. Benzema then led France to Nations League success earlier this October.