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