Benzema hits back at claims he shouldn't play for France

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After being criticised by France's sports minister, the Real Madrid forward has hit back at any criticism of his ethical "respect"

Karim Benzema has hit back following comments made by France's prime minister and sports minister as part of a row over his involvement with the national team.

Patrick Kanner cast doubt on the idea of allowing the Real Madrid striker to return to Didier Deschamps' set-up even though a court in Versailles opted to lift a sanction preventing him from having contact with international team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.

Speaking to RTL, Kanner stated that "the conditions had not been met" for Benzema's return and questioned his level of respect for the ethics of the France team, prompting a response from the 28-year-old.

Prime minister Manuel Valls echoed those comments, telling RMC: "For young people, a great sportsman must be exemplary. We have to be careful, all acts and decisions have their importance."

A post on Benzema's official Twitter account read: "Twelve seasons as a professional: 541 matches played, 0 red cards, 11 yellow cards!!! And some people talk about my exemplariness???"

Deschamps defended Benzema again over the weekend as he prepares to name his squad for this month's friendly matches with Netherlands and Russia.

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"I have a principle: whoever the player, I will defend him," he told L'Equipe. "I have said already, Karim made a mistake [but] there is a presumption of innocence.

"My goal is to have the best team and therefore the best players."

Benzema, who denies any wrongdoing, has been charged with complicity in an attempt to blackmail and participating in a criminal conspiracy in relation to a sex-tape scandal involving Valbuena.

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