France international Morgan Schneiderlin has hit back at Karim Benzema by claiming accusing national team coach Didier Deschamps of racism is "sad".
Benzema's involvement was always in doubt following a criminal investigation into his alleged involvement of blackmailing international team-mate Mathieu Valbuena, however the striker suggested an element of racism may have been at play in his exclusion.
While Benzema stopped short of calling Deschamps a racist in an explosive interview with Spanish newspaper Marca, the Madrid striker suggested that the coach had, "bowed to the pressure of a racist part of France".
But Manchester United midfielder Schneiderlin dismissed any possibility that Deschamps would base any of his decisions on race or religion, after he himself was only a late call-up to the squad following an injury to Lassana Diarra.
"When some accuse the coach of racism it is really sad," Schneiderlin said.
"Just know, seeing his selections, how he speaks to us, to realise that he is light years from being racist.
"In the group, there are different religions, different skin colours.
"It's sad to talk about this."
Despite the controversy, host nation France remain one of the favourites to take out the tournament having been drawn in Group A alongside Albania, Romania and Switzerland.