France and Real Madrid star convicted over sex tape scandal

France and Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has been convicted for his involvement in the attempted blackmail of a former international team mate over a sex tape.

The footballer was sentenced to a one-year suspended jail term and fined 75,000 euros (GBP62,967) over his role in the episode.

The 33-year-old’s lawyer said the player would appeal against the verdict.

Image:
Mathieu Valbuena, left, and Karim Benzema while on international duty together for France in 2014. Pic: AP

Benzema, who had denied any wrongdoing, was not in the court in Versailles and is due to play for the Spanish club against Moldovan side Sheriff Tiraspol later in the day.

“This outcome in no way corresponds with the reality of events,” his lawyer, Antoine Vey, told reporters afterwards.

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Real Madrid have not yet responded to requests for a comment.

Prosecutors said Benzema had encouraged Mathieu Valbuena to pay a suspected group of blackmailers to keep the sexually explicit tape out of the public eye.

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They said Valbuena, who now plays for Greek club Olympiacos, received the first of several phone calls threatening to expose the tape in June 2015.

Valbuena told the court it was clear the caller wanted money and that the blackmail attempt left him fearing for his career and place in the France squad.

Image:
Mathieu Valbuena celebrates a victory for Olympiacos. Pic: AP

Benzema was recruited by the alleged blackmailers to encourage Valbuena to pay as his teammate stalled, according to the prosecution.

Benzema and Valbuena both lost their places in the national team in the wake of the scandal, known as the “sex tape affair”.

Benzema, who has played more than 90 times for his country, was recalled to the France squad for this year’s European Championship.

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