Three months after his referral to the criminal court, Karim Benzema now knows the date of his trial. His case will be judged from October 20 to 22 before the court of Versailles, the prosecutor announced to AFP on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. Back on more than five years of a case which will have cost the Madrilenian his place in the team of France.
While the France team has just played two friendly matches against Armenia and Denmark at the beginning of October 2015, a case broke out while Djibril Cissé and three other people were placed in police custody. The four men are said to be involved in a sextape blackmail case against Mathieu Valbuena, the playmaker of the Blues and Olympique Lyonnais. The latter would have received in June of the same year several phone calls from men urging him to pay them more than 100,000 euros so as not to broadcast an intimate video of him and his companion. Valbuena files a complaint and investigators from the Versailles judicial police set a trap for the three men involved at the start of the case. If Djibril Cissé is quickly released, they are indicted for “blackmail and participation in a criminal association”.
During the regrouping of the France team in October, Mathieu Valbuena and Karim Benzema would have had a discussion about this “sextape”. According to investigators, who have been working on the case for five years now, the Real Madrid striker is urging his teammate to pay the ransom. Enter Karim Zenati, a childhood friend of Benzema and also indicted, who would have been charged by the blackmailers to convince the number 10 of the Blues to discuss with Valbuena. The Real striker will initially defend himself from being simply “intervened in a friendly way with Mathieu Valbuena, to tell him not to let it go.“
Benzema was taken into police custody on November 4, 2015 in Versailles. The case then takes another turn as the flagship player of the France team of Didier Deschamps faces justice. Indicted for “complicity in attempted blackmail and participation in a criminal association”, Benzema was placed under judicial supervision and could not come into contact with Valbuena. The latter responds to the first requests from the media and says himself in Le Monde “disappointed, more than disappointed“by his teammate in Blue, adding that”even to his worst enemy he wouldn’t do that“.
A few days later, Le Monde unveils the words of Karim Benzema that he made in front of the Versailles judge at the beginning of November: “I think that’s a big misunderstanding, all of that. Initially, I wanted to tell him (Valbuena, editor’s note) about a story about him and help him.“The involvement of his childhood friend Karim Zenati ultimately cost him his place in Blue and several years of controversy.
On December 10, it was the president of the French Football Federation (FFF) who took a stand on the case. Christmas Le Graët announces that Benzema will no longer play for the Blues “until the situation changes“. For him to return to the France team, it would be necessary according to Le Graët”that the judge decides that the file is empty or that he and Valbuena become friends again after the judge decides to confront them“. Finally, Benzema will never return to the France team, and will remain at 27 goals in 81 caps. His last match with the Blues therefore dates back to a victory against Armenia on October 8, 2015, a match in which he scored twice. and issued an assist.
In February, the investigating judge in charge of the investigation decides to partially lift the judicial control of the Real Madrid striker while he remains indicted. Karim Benzema can again get in touch with Mathieu Valbuena, and the question of a return to Blue arises. Finally, the FFF and Didier Deschamps decide not to summon the star of Real for Euro 2016, which takes place in France. “Sporting performance is an important but not exclusive criterion in deciding on selection to the French football team., wrote the FFF in a press release. The ability of the players to work in the direction of unity, within and around the group, the exemplarity and the preservation of the group are also taken into account by all the coaches of the Federation.“.
A decision which will later make Benzema say that Deschamps “gave in under pressure from a racist part of France.“For his part, Valbuena will not participate in Euro 2016 either after a mixed season on the side of OL. While Benzema remains indicted, the Versailles Court of Appeal, seized by the prosecution , validates the progress of the investigation in December, while the lawyers of the players dispute the loyalty of this one.
This is one of the rare victories of Karim Benzema in this case: in July 2017, the Court of Cassation upheld the player’s lawyers who denounced the involvement of an undercover police officer in the case. According to Benzema’s defense, this officer nicknamed “Lukas” would have repeatedly incited the blackmailers to ask Valbuena for money against the non-broadcast of the sextape. For Benzema’s lawyers, “Lukas” would therefore have been guilty of provoking an offense, which would make the investigation conducted against Benzema and the five other indicted persons unfair. After ruling in July 2017, the Court of Cassation appoints the Paris Court of Appeal to rule again.