French PM says ‘conditions not yet met’ for Benzema’s France return

(FILES) This file photo taken on October 09, 2015 shows French forward Karim Benzema celebrating after scoring a goal during the friendly football match between France and Armenia on October 8, 2015 at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice, southeastern France. The judicial review of Karim Benzema, indicted in the sex-tape blackmailing affair against Mathieu Valbuena, was lifted on March 11, 2016, by the Versailles Court of Appeal, opening the way to its come-back in the French national team for Euro 2016. / AFP / VALERY HACHE

(FILES) This file photo taken on October 09, 2015 shows French forward Karim Benzema celebrating after scoring a goal during the friendly football match between France and Armenia on October 8, 2015 at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice, southeastern France.<br />The judicial review of Karim Benzema, indicted in the sex-tape blackmailing affair against Mathieu Valbuena, was lifted on March 11, 2016, by the Versailles Court of Appeal, opening the way to its come-back in the French national team for Euro 2016. / AFP / VALERY HACHE

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Tuesday that the conditions for Karim Benzema’s return to the France team “have not yet been met” as the player was still under investigation.

“I think that the conditions have not yet been met for Karim Benzema to come into the France team. He is still under investigation,” Valls told French broadcaster RMC. “At the same time it is a decision for the French football federation and the coach.”

Real Madrid striker Benzema’s hopes of playing at Euro 2016 received a huge boost after legal restrictions placed on him over his alleged involvement in a sextape blackmail case were lifted last week.

France coach Didier Deschamps has made no secret of his desire to see Benzema return to the national team set-up, after the striker was indefinitely suspended by the French Football Federation (FFF) in December.

“On a sporting plan, I want to have the best players. You’re not a striker at Real Madrid for five years with (Jose) Mourinho, (Carlo) Ancelotti, (Rafael) Benitez and (Zinedine) Zidane for nothing. All the countries envy us,” Deschamps told French daily L’Equipe recently.

On Friday, an appeals court in Versailles, outside Paris, upheld an investigating magistrate’s decision to lift legal restrictions placed on Benzema that prevented him from coming into contract with international teammate Mathieu Valbuena, who was the target of the blackmail attempt.

The FFF said the decision to lift the legal restrictions was “a first step”, but added that it would wait to see how the investigation unfolded before deciding whether to recall Benzema.

Despite Friday’s ruling, Benzema remains under investigation.



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