Versailles, France (NWN) – France and Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema was sentenced to one year in prison and fined 75,000 euros ($84,000) in the sex-tape scandal that rocked French football.
Benzema was convicted in 2015 of his involvement in an attempt to blackmail his France teammate, Mathieu Valbuena.
The Versailles Court decision is unlikely to affect Benzema’s immediate sporting future. The forward is considered one of the favorites to win the Ballon d’Or award in Paris on 29 November after an impressive season with Madrid. French federation president Noel Le Grete has already said that Benzema will be allowed to play with France even if found guilty.
Benzema’s lawyers said he would appeal.
Benzema, who denied wrongdoing, did not attend the trial in Versailles last month and was absent for the verdict. Four other defendants were also found guilty and did not appear in court on Wednesday.
Prosecutors said Benzema should be fined 75,000 euros, the maximum permissible on the charge, and a suspended 10-month prison sentence if found guilty.
Benzema was charged with complicity in attempting to blackmail a sex tape stolen from Valbuena’s mobile phone.
Following initial allegations in November 2015, Benzema was dropped from the France national team by coach Didier Deschamps. This resulted in Benzema missing the 2016 European Championship, and also the 2018 World Cup which was won by France.
Deschamps recalled Benzema ahead of the delayed Euro 2020 tournament and has fielded him regularly since then.
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