(Image: AFP via Getty Images)
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Karim Benzema has been found guilty of complicity in the attempted blackmail of former France team-mate Mathieu Valbeuna.
A court in Versailles has sentenced Benzema to a one-year suspended prison term and a €75,000 fine for complicity in attempted blackmail.
The allegations against the Real Madrid superstar date back to 2015 and he was one of five people put on trial over the attempt to blackmail Valbuena with a sexually explicit video from his mobile phone.
Benzema himself wasn’t accused of being behind the extortion attempt but instead of conspiring with the suspected blackmailers by putting pressure on Valbuena.
It is alleged that Benzema told Valbuena to ‘manage’ the issue of the video during an exchange at the French team’s training centre in 2015.
The charges relate to the plot to blackmail former France international Mathieu Valbuena
(Image: IAN LANGSDON/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
Valbuena claimed that while no money was exchanged, Benzema’s tone was “very insistent”.
The court rules that Benzema did not realise the criminal nature of his acts but a phone call to a childhood friend to say "he's not taking us seriously" was seen as proof of his implication in the plot.
"Benzema is not a good Samaritan who just wanted to help out," prosecutor Segolene Mares accused.
Benzema returned to the international fold earlier this year after six years in the international wilderness. After being named in Les Bleus' squad for Euro 2020, the 33-year-old has scored nine times moving him into ninth in the nation's list of record scorers.
The Madrid striker's agent has confirmed he will appeal the decision: "We are quite flabbergasted by this judgment. An appeal is necessary. He will be exonerated at the height of this appeal."
Chairman of the French Football Federation Noel La Graet has confirmed that he remains available for selection regardless of appeal, having already spent time away from the national team.
"I don't know what Karim and his lawyers will decide, namely whether they appeal, but as far as the Federation is concerned, there is no change," he told RMC.
"He remains selectable, while regretting this unfortunate record. He did not play for several years with the France team. This sanction does not change anything for me. He is selectable.
"Even if he does not do no appeal, for me, it does not change anything, he continues. He has the right to work. We can make a mistake, be sentenced to a suspended sentence and return to work. "