Karim Benzema recalled to France squad for Euros despite impending trial

Karim Benzema has earned a return to the France squad for this summer’s European Championships. The striker has been in brilliant form for Real Madrid this season and was selected by Didier Deschamps despite a trial due to take place later this year for his alleged involvement in an attempt to blackmail his former France teammate Matthieu Valbuena in a “sex tape” scandal.

Benzema is alleged of having pressured his former national teammate to pay blackmailers who threatened to reveal an intimate video in which Valbuena featured. He will stand trial on the charge of conspiracy to attempt blackmail, the prosecutor’s office said. The date for the trial is after this summer’s tournament, on 20-22 October.

The 33-year-old Benzema has been banned from the national team since November 2015 because of his alleged involvement in the scandal, despite consistent showings with Madrid.

The investigators who charged Benzema believe he was approached by a childhood friend that year to act as an intermediary and convince Valbuena to deal directly with the blackmailers. Instead, Valbuena informed the police. Four other people will also stand trial in the case. Benzema denies any wrongdoing and reacted to the trial date being set on Instagram earlier this year, posting: “Yes, finally, let’s go. Let the masquerade end forever.”

Benzema has scored 29 goals in all competitions and was Real Madrid’s standout player in their journey to the Champions League semi-finals. They remain in the La Liga title race although trail rivals Atlético Madrid by two points going into the final league game this weekend.

Benzema, who has 27 goals in 81 games for France, features in the 26-man squad alongside fellow forwards Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappé, Kingsley Coman, Olivier Giroud, Ousmane Dembélé, Wissam Ben Yedder and Marcus Thuram.

France have been drawn in Group F for Euro 2020 alongside Hungary, Portugal, and Germany. Their campaign starts in Munich against Germany on 15 June.