Valbuena, Benzema omitted by France amid sextape scnadal

Published 11/05/2015, 10:00 AM EST
France’s Karim Benzema sits on the field after being injured during their friendly soccer match against Armenia at Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice, France, in this October 8, 2015 photo. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

By Julien Pretot

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PARIS (Reuters) – Mathieu Valbuena and Karim Benzema, embroiled in a sextape scandal, were omitted from France’s squad on Thursday for the games with Germany and England later this month while Hatem Ben Arfa was recalled.

Real Madrid striker Benzema was put under formal judicial investigation earlier on Thursday in connection with an alleged attempt to blackmail Olympique Lyonnais forward Valbuena with the use of a sex video.

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France coach Didier Deschamps told a news conference he would not answer “questions not related to football”.

He simply said Valbuena, who took part in Lyon’s 2-0 home defeat by Zenit St Petersburg in the Champions League on Wednesday, was not in an emotional state to play.

Benzema, on the injured list at Real recently, has been forbidden by a prosecutor to be in contact with the people linked to the investigation.

With two of his key players missing, Deschamps recalled Ben Arfa, who has been shining at Nice, scoring seven goals in 12 matches in Ligue 1.

Midfielder Ben Arfa won the last of his 13 caps at Euro 2012.

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He had a difficult relationship with Deschamps when the former France captain, who led Les Bleus to their World Cup title in 1998, was his coach at Marseille, refusing to train as he forced a move to Newcastle United.

While all French players have signed a charter pledging good behaviour off the pitch, Deschamps said “sporting qualities” were his priority when he picked his squad.

Euro 2016 hosts France take on Germany at the Stade de France on Nov. 13 and travel to London to face England four days later.

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Deschamps also handed Bayern Munich forward Kingsley Coman his first call-up.

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)

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Dhruv George

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Dhruv George is a senior Formula One and NASCAR analyst for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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