Karim Benzema has been handed a one year suspended prison sentence following blackmailing scandal
Karim Benzema has been ordered to pay a fine of 75,000€ (roughly £63,000) after he attempted to blackmail Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape. His lawyers have said that the footballer will appeal the verdict.
The Real Madrid player, 33, was put on trial in October over attempting to extort money from the 37-year-old midfielder in 2015 by pressuring him to pay blackmailers after they threatened to reveal the sex tape.
Previously, Benzema had denied the allegations and refused he had committed any wrongdoing.
Benzema has been found guilty along with four other men who have been found to have been directly involved in the conspiracy to blackmail. Their sentences range from 18 month suspended sentences to two and a half years in jail.
The Real Madrid forward was absent from the trial due to sport commitments.
When delivering the verdict, the judge at Versailles had said Benzema had “implicated himself personally, through subterfuge and lies, to convince his teammate to submit to the blackmail”.
What happened in 2015?
The scandal started in June 2015 when the two players were at a French training camp. Benzema put pressure on Valbuena to pay off the blackmailers, whom prosecutors have said Benzema used as an intermediary.
Mathieu Valbuena asked a man in Marseille to upload contents on his mobile phone to a new device. The man found sexually explicit material on the phone and he and another man in the trial are accused of trying to blackmail Valbuena into making the tape public.
The 37-year-old then described being approached by another defendant who told the court he had warned the player about the issue without asking for money.
Valbuena went to the police where a sting operation revealed a childhood friend of Benzema’s was also involved.
At the training camp, Benzema had said he was only trying to help his teammate dispose of the video at which point he is then said to have offered to put Valbuena in touch with someone he could trust - his childhood friend.
Will Karim Benzema be able to play for France again?
The French international had initially been suspended from his national squad in November 2015 due to his suspected involvement but in the summer, Benzema was recalled for France’s Euro 2020 campaign in which they reached the last 16, losing to Switzerland on penalties.
Noel Le Graet, the French Federation President allowed the forward to continue playing for France even if he were to be found guilty.
Since the scandal first broke, Mathieu Valbuena has also been suspended from the international squad but has not returned.
Valbuena and Benzema both played together for France at the 2012 Euros and 2014 World Cup.
The midfielder plays for the Greek club Olympiacos and has won 52 caps for his country with eight goals to his name.
Benzema has scored 36 goals for France in 94 appearances and is likely to start for Real Madrid in their upcoming fixture against FC Sheriff Tiraspol in the 2021/22 Champions League group stage matches.
In Benzema’s 395 appearances for Real Madrid, whom he has been with since 2009, he has scored 202 goals.
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