'Benzema crossed the line' - France boss Deschamps still hasn't forgiven Real Madrid forward

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The France coach remains angry at the 31-year-old, whose international exile looks likely to continue for some time yet

Didier Deschamps has indicated he is not yet ready to forgive Karim Benzema for comments made about the France coach, saying the Real Madrid forward had “crossed the line”.

Deschamps and Benzema have been at odds for several years over the striker’s continued omission from the France squad.

The 28-year-old was suspended by the French Football Federation (FFF) in December 2015 after an alleged blackmail attempt on France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena and has not been selected for Les Bleus since.

Benzema had reportedly asked to be reconsidered for selection ahead of last summer’s World Cup in Russia but was once again snubbed by Deschamps, whose side would go on to win the trophy for a second time.

Benzema responded by publicly criticising FFF president Noel Le Graet, who had backed Deschamps’ decision not to select him.

Deschamps was initially angered by comments made by Benzema two-and-a-half years ago ahead of the European Championships on home soil.

The 31-year-old suggested that the former Chelsea and Juventus midfielder had “folded to the pressure of a racist part of France,” in opting not to select the striker, who was born in France but has Algerian heritage, for the tournament.

When asked about his current relationship with Benzema, Deschamps said he remains angry at those accusations and is not yet ready to forgive the Real Madrid forward

“Some people can give speeches that can have consequences that go beyond any form of understanding, and I can never forget that,” Deschamps told Europe 1. “At that moment I considered that a line had been crossed.

“I pick French players, all of them are French and it has never occurred to me to not select someone based on their colour or religion. And in the same way the other way around, I would never pick someone based on the same criteria, because that would just as bad or worse.”

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Benzema has turned out 81 times for the national team and has scored 27 goals, placing him ninth in the list of all-time marksmen for Les Bleus. Of the current squad, only Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud has struck more goals for his nation.

 

 

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