Karim Benzema, a Real Madrid striker has been found guilty of conspiring to blackmail a fellow French footballer with a sex tape six years later after the case was opened.
Benzema, 33, who is a striker for the France team was handed a one-year suspended jail term and ordered by the judge to pay an $84,000 fine.
According to BBC, Benzema was one of the five people put on trial last month over an attempt to extort Frenchman Mathieu Valbuena. The case has been a shocking experience for the football community in France.
The case dates back to June 2015 and caused both players to lose their national team places while they were at a French training camp at the time.
It is reported that Benzema, while at the camp, put pressure on Valbuena to pay off the blackmailers, whom he had conspired with to act as an intermediary, prosecutors said.
However, Benzema has always denied the allegations and insisted he was only trying to help Valbuena get rid of the compromising video which later turned into a national scandal.
The player has since returned to the France team and is expected to start for Real Madrid on Wednesday night when they play FC Sheriff Tiraspol in the Champions League.
Benzema was not present in court in Versailles for the verdict, nor was Valbuena who plays for Greek club Olympiakos.
Four of Karim’s co-defendants in the trial were also found guilty on Wednesday. They were handed jail sentences ranging from 18 months suspended to two-and-a-half years in prison.
Karim Benzema was found guilty of conspiring to blackmail a fellow French footballer with a sex tape
Benzema’s lawyers said they would appeal his conviction. “The reaction is ultimately an angry one to this judgment which is perfectly contradictory,” his lawyer, Sylvain Cormier, told reporters outside court.
But when delivering the verdict, the judge said Benzema had “implicated himself personally, through subterfuge and lies, to convince his teammate to submit to the blackmail”.
Benzema made a surprise comeback to the French national team in 2020, five years after he was exiled from the side when the allegations first surfaced in 2015. But last month, the French football federation said a guilty verdict would not necessarily jeopardise the player’s position in the national side.
Since being called back by France manager Didier Deschamps, Benzema has been in prolific form, scoring nine times in 13 games for his country. He’s also scored 10 goals this season for his club, Real Madrid, who are yet to comment on the verdict.
For his performances on the pitch, he was named a candidate for the Ballon d’Or footballer of the year award which will be announced next week.
Author: Allan Bangirana
Allan Bangirana has a taste for all kinds of topics and usually writes about tech, entertainment, sports and community projects that make a difference in society.