Karim Benzema has been suspended indefinitely from the France national team over the sex tape blackmail case involving his team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.
The French football federation president, Noël Le Graët, said the striker would remain suspended until the case was resolved, calling it a “heartbreaking” decision.
“I have decided, it is a decision from the president of the French federation and not from the executive committee or the ethics committee,” Le Graët told a press conference. “As long as the judicial system has not decided that everything that has been published is excessive, the federation will not change its mind.”
Le Graet was not specific but his ruling appears to mean Benzema cannot be called up by the national team until he is convicted or cleared of the alleged offence, meaning he could miss Euro 2016 which is being hosted by France.
Benzema is facing charges of conspiracy to blackmail relating to an alleged extortion plot over a sex tape featuring Valbuena. The Real Madrid forward has admitted involvement in the case, telling investigators he approached Valbuena about the tape on behalf of “a childhood friend” but claimed he did not think he was harming the other player.
The French prime minister, Manuel Valls, had suggested Benzema “has no place” on the national team, days after Valbuena said he felt betrayed by his France team-mate. The pair were omitted from France’s squad for the games with Germany and England last month.
Benzema’s alleged involvement in the plot has not yet been fully determined but investigators believe he was approached by a friend to act as an intermediary and convince Valbuena to deal directly with the alleged blackmailers.
Benzema, who denies any wrongdoing, has also been placed under judicial supervision, meaning he cannot meet with Valbuena during the investigation.
Benzema’s lawyer, Sylvain Cormier, has insisted his client is innocent, saying: “He took no part, I state this again – no part – in the blackmail or blackmail attempts.”