Didier Deschamps says he will never forget Karim Benzema’s suggestion that the coach surrendered to pressure from racists by omitting him from the France squad.
The striker, who has 27 goals in 81 appearances for France to his name, has not featured for the national team since October 2015.
The following month, he was arrested by French police following an investigation into an attempt to blackmail international team-mate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape. It was confirmed this month that the 33-year-old will stand trial on charges related to the plot, though he denies any wrongdoing.
Benzema was heavily criticised after the story emerged, with then-Prime Minister Manuel Valls saying he should not be given a place in the team, while former President Francois Hollande wrote in his book that the player was "morally, not an example".
Then, after it was confirmed he would not be part of the squad for Euro 2016, Benzema said that Deschamps had “bowed to the pressure of a racist part of France”. Days later, the coach’s home was vandalised with graffiti labelling him a racist.
In November 2019, Noel le Graet, the president of the French Football Federation, dismissed suggestions that the former Lyon star could return to the team, declaring his international career “over”.
Deschamps, meanwhile, is still bitter about Benzema’s accusation and admits he will never forget what he said.
"It's a stain," he said in an interview with RTL.
"Even if with time it calms down a bit, I can't forget. It's not just about Karim Benzema. There are statements by other people too that have led to this violent act, which affects my family.
"When it concerns me, on my choices as coach, the tactics, the technical aspect, it has to be accepted and it does not matter.
“There, it crosses the white line. It touches my name, my family. For me, this is unacceptable.
“Saying certain things necessarily leads to verbal or physical aggression. I suffer the consequences. We cannot forget. I cannot forget. I will never forget."
While Benzema has been cast aside by France, he remains a key figure at Real Madrid. The attacker has scored 13 goals in 22 appearances in all competitions this season for the club he joined almost 12 years ago.