PARIS/MADRID: Real Madrid centre-forward Karim Benzema will not be selected to play for hosts France at the European Championship finals in June and July.
Benzema has been suspended from the national team since last November because of his confused involvement in an ongoing blackmail case involving France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.
The 28-year-old is under investigation over an alleged attempt by one of his friends to extort money from Valbuena, over a sex tape. Benzema has told investigators he approached Valbuena about the tape on behalf of “a childhood friend” but claims he did not realise he was doing anything wrong.
Benzema had asked the French federation to delay the initial suspension which was imposed late last year after he was put under investigation in November for “complicity in a blackmail attempt” and being part of a “criminal group”.
Originally Benzema was also banned from contacting his international team-mate but last month a judge lifted those restrictions which meant that, in theory, he could play alongside Valbuena.
However the FFF, after a discussion between president Noel Le Graat and coach Didier Deschamps, informed the striker that he would not be selected.
A statement said: “The president and the coach agreed that sporting performance was an important criteria but not the only one. The ability of players to work in a united way and maintain group discipline are equally important.
“Hence Noël Le Graët and Didier Deschamps have decided that Karim Benzema could not take part in Euro 2016.”