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Karim Benzema

Benzema: Sex tape affair could be reason for France exile

20:15 GMT 12/11/2017
Karim Benzema France 2017
The 29-year-old was arrested as part of the investigation in the scandal involving his team-mate and believes it has led to his two-year absence

Karim Benzema believes his exile from the France squad is down to his alleged role in blackmailing Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape and does not expect to return while Didier Deschamps is in charge.

The Real Madrid striker has not featured for Les Bleus since he played a starring role with two goals and an assist in a 4-0 win over Armenia in October 2015. The following month, he was arrested as part of the investigation into the blackmailing of his France team-mate.

Deschamps suggested in May that bringing Benzema in would put the "harmony" of the team at risk, and the 29-year-old feels that could be because of his alleged involvement in the scandal.

"It could be that, of course, there were stories before with the sex-tape affair and that could be it," he told Canal+. "But, personally, I think what is external to football you have to leave out. It's best to win titles.

"Everybody has gotten involved and we have forgotten football. It has been two years since I've played. I don't have any problem with the coach, but as long as he's here, I don't think I'll have a chance.

"We forgot the athlete and what I can bring in. Public opinion has been able to weigh in. But we do not need that to win titles, it is possible that Deschamps has been put under pressure."

With no sign of his absence coming to an end, the former Lyon star does not expect to be part of the squad for the 2018 World Cup.

"It's complicated for me to be at the World Cup, don't be silly, of course I want to, I'm a football lover, and I like that pressure," he said.

"I have no problems with any player in the France team, there are some that I come across and it's always good to see them, I'm not a disrupter, I have a public image that isn't good.

"I do not see myself as a substitute in football, I'm not going there to be on the bench, but if I don't deserve to be a starter and there's a better person than me, it's no problem."

Benzema does not see any reason to call Deschamps to clarify the situation and has been left hurt by the mystery.

"It's not a matter of calling or not calling. I got him on the phone before the Euros and there was no explanation from him," he said. 

"He's someone I respect, but he showed me a lot of respect before and then turned his back on me, it's hurtful."