Karim Benzema had an amazing season with Real Madrid scoring 29 goals for the club, which culminated in the Real winning the Champions League last week. Celebrating in Madrid with fellow players Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, and Sergio Ramos, one could almost forget what an awful year it’s been for Benzema back home in France.
A few weeks ago, French coach Didier Deschamps decided to leave Benzema out of the selection to play the upcoming UEFA Euro 2016, which will be held in his home country. Back in December, Benzema had already suffered the wrath of football officials at the French Football Federation (FFF) who suspended him from playing in the national team following the Valbuena sex-tape affair, which the Inquisitr reported on.
So it came as little surprise that Deschamps decided to leave the striker out, but speaking to Spanish newspaper Marca this week, Benzema said he believed there was more to the decision.
“He has bowed to the pressure of a racist part of France,” Benzema said, referring to the Front National, the far-right political party that has reached the second round of the last two presidential elections.
Defending himself and his right to represent his country, Benzema declared he shouldn’t be considered guilty before being trialed, under the presumption of innocence principle.
“At judicial level I have not been judged. I am not guilty, so I would like to play with my team.”
FFF President Noel Le Graet declared he wasn’t mad at Benzema although he said the striker went too far.
“I like him. I’m not going to change my mind because of a newspaper article. What I take away from this is, he likes French team and he wants to come back.”
Le Graet, who was visiting Austria where the Bleus are training for the Euro 2016, added that Deschamps was in no way affected by Benzema’s accusations.
“He is very strong, thankfully, otherwise he wouldn’t be in this position,” the FFF president said. “He has no problem, he has nothing against Benzema.”
Interestingly, Le Graet chose to completely ignore the accusations of racism and simply reiterated that the federation was committed to accepting players from all origins and backgrounds.
But it’s not just Benzema who’s dared to criticize French coach Didier Deschamps. Just last week, Eric Cantona, who was celebrating his 50th birthday, gave a scathing interview. In it, he suggested that Hatem Ben Arfa was also left out of the Euro 2016 squad because of his ethnicity.
Speaking to the Guardian, Cantona said Benzema and Ben Arfa were both great players but that their names weren’t French enough to be selected.
“Deschamps, he has a really French name. Maybe he’s the only one in France to have a truly French name. Nobody in his family mixed with anybody, you know. Like the Mormons in America.”
But that time, Deschamps didn’t just let it go and sent his lawyer, Carlos Brusa, after French legend Eric Cantona. Brusa said his words were “slanderous” and “defamatory” and that they were going to initiate action before the civil and criminal courts.
Benzema is facing trial and is expected to be sentenced in late 2016 in the Valbuena sex-tape case.
[Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images]