Karim Benzema, the Real Madrid striker, is at the forefront of the prominent stars in the list of France, the 2018 World Cup champion, ahead of Euro 2020.
France, the runner-up of the last edition of the European Nations Cup, is preparing to participate in the Euro 2020 finals, where it plays in Group F, which includes Portugal, Germany and Hungary next to it.
Didier Deschamps, coach of the “Rooster”, took a surprising decision to return Benzema to the France squad after nearly 6 years of absence, due to the latter’s involvement in the case of blackmailing his colleague Matteo Valbuena with a scandalous tape.
The exclusion of Benzema, and Deschamps’ insistence on excluding him despite his acquittal, caused a fierce media war between the two parties, in which other people were also involved.
In the following lines, “Al Ain Sports” reviews a chronology of the “six-year war” between Deschamps and Benzema, which ended with the latter’s victory and his return to the national team.
Towards the end of 2015, it was decided to exclude Benzema from participating with the France national team indefinitely, in light of allegations that he was involved in the Valbuena blackmail case with a scandalous tape, as investigations proved that he had a relationship with the people who carried out the extortion, and that he tried to persuade his colleague to pay the required amount.
During the investigation into the case, Manuel Valls, then French Prime Minister, said: “The great athlete must be perfect, if not, he will not have a place in the France national team. There are many children and young people in our suburbs who see the athletes as role models.”
Noel Legret, president of the French Football Federation, confirmed that he made the decision to exclude Karim Benzema, and that the Real Madrid star cannot play with France until the situation is resolved, and added: “As long as the judicial system has not decided that everything that was published about Benzema is an exaggeration. The union will not change its mind.”
Although the French judiciary decided to exclude the name of Benzema from the case of involvement in the blackmail of Valbuena in 2017, the decision to exclude him from the national team remained in force, and from here his differences with Deschamps and the French Federation began to flare up.
He finds clarification that the court’s decision did not mean that Benzema was innocent of involvement in the blackmail of Valbuena, but it came on the basis of challenging the legality of the recording of his phone calls by the police, and thus this decision did not deny his involvement in one way or another in the extortion process.
“I am happy for Benzema, I have always wished that this young man would be fine, and if we stopped talking about him for this issue, it would be better,” Legret commented on the court’s decision regarding Benzema, refusing to address the matter of his return to the national team, noting that coach Deschamps is the owner decision on this matter.
Because of the exclusion decision, Benzema was absent from the French national team at the Euro 2016 tournament held in France, and the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Benzema did not stand still about the decision to exclude him, especially after the court ruling in his favour, and he went out on more than one occasion to talk about this matter, accusing Deschamps of treating him racistly because of his Algerian origins, and he also criticized Legret.
The Benzema case caused a huge controversy in France that lasted for a long time, and the French sports street was divided between supporters of Deschamps’ decision for sporting and moral reasons, and opponents who believe that the coach of the “roosters” deals with the Real Madrid star with racism.
Eric Cantona, the legend of the French national team, was one of the most prominent critics of the decision to exclude Benzema, as he said that Deschamps refuses to include the Real Madrid star, and Hatem Ben Arfa, the owner of Tunisian origin, for racist motives.
Deschamps decided to wage a legal battle against Cantona because of what he said about him, as he confirmed in previous statements that he would not forgive Benzema because of the strong accusations he made against him, and their negative repercussions on him and his family.
It is noteworthy that the issue of Benzema’s exclusion has become a fodder for political and partisan differences in France. For example, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy directed strong criticism at Manuel Valls because of what he said about the attacker of Algerian origin, accusing him of “pretending to be ideal,” in light of his disregard for the accusation of one His government ministers evaded tax.
war on everyone
Away from sports matters, and whether Benzema is eligible to play for the national team or not, the issue over time took a personal turn and went out of its natural sporting path.
And after a long period of his exclusion, and his absence from the 2018 World Cup-winning team, Benzema decided to wage war on everyone, not only Deschamps and Legret, as the Real Madrid star criticized a number of officials in France, and also made fiery statements towards Valbuena, accusing him of lying and fabricating lies in order to Appear as a victim.
Benzema also ridiculed his compatriot Olivier Giroud, who replaced him in the national team attack and belittled him by saying: “I am a Formula 1 car and Giro is a karting (inferior race)”, although the Chelsea striker was not a party to the case in any way.
Giroud responded strongly to Benzema’s irony by saying: “I am a karting car with the World Cup,” but at the same time he praised his compatriot by saying that his career would have been better if he played with him for a longer period.
The escalation reached its climax when Benzema demanded in 2019 to play for the Algerian national team, in response to a statement by the President of the French Federation, in which he hinted at the end of the veteran striker’s career with the roosters.
Benzema’s talk may seem just a threat or an angry response, but the European media took him seriously, and published at the time the case that allows him to play in the Algerian shirt after more than 80 “roosters” matches, which is that he loses his French citizenship.
Last May, Deschamps decided to return Benzema to the French national team, and this decision was not preceded by many indications, as several reports spoke of him a few days before the official announcement.
Deschamps confirmed, after calling Benzema again, that this decision was not related to personal matters, hinting that he was still angry at the “Merenge” star’s attack on him and accused him of racism, and that his decision came for purely sporting reasons.
On the other hand, Benzema refused to thank Deschamps or talk about the end of the dispute between them, and he said about his return: “My performance with Real Madrid is the reason for my return, football is what spoke, you have to always appear well with your club and not give up even when you face obstacles.” .
Benzema is unique in the role of Real Madrid’s attacking leader since Cristiano Ronaldo left for Juventus in 2018, which gave the French star more space to appear and be in the spotlight.
It is worth noting that Benzema played a key part in France’s friendly against Wales (Wednesday) and completed it to the end, and several press reports indicate that he will be part of the main squad for the European Championships 2020.