Tue. Dec 7th, 2021

The Real Madrid forward has been convicted of complicity in the attempted extortion of a former international team-mate.

A French court has sentenced Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema to a one-year suspended sentence for complicity in a bid for extortion his former teammate from France, Mathieu Valbuena, with a sex tape.

The sentence imposed on Wednesday was stricter than that demanded by prosecutors against the 33-year-old player over the 2015 extortion attempt, which led to Benzema expel of the France team for five-and-a-half years.

Benzema was not in court in the Paris suburb of Versailles for the verdict, which comes hours before Real Madrid tackle sheriff Tiraspol in a Champions League match in Moldova.

His defense team immediately announced plans for an appeal.

One of his lawyers, Sylvain Cormier, spoke to reporters in court and said he was “quite stunned by the verdict”.

The prosecution demanded that Benzema, who was one of five people charged with a relationship that shook the French national team, be given a 10-month suspended sentence.

Benzema did not attend his trial last month, citing professional obligations.

The verdict is not expected to hurt his career, with Noel Le Graet, president of the French football federation, saying he can keep his place in Les Bleus, even if he is found guilty and Real Madrid will also remain. supportive of their star player.

But Benzema’s conviction nonetheless cast a shadow over his astonishing return to the national team earlier this year after a years-long absence.

Benzema has scored nine times since being recalled by France manager Didier Deschamps for the Euro 2020 final – with a year delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic – making him the fifth highest scorer in the history of Les Bleus.

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