Karim Benzema suspended from France team over blackmail inquiry

Karim Benzema has been suspended from the France team until an investigation into his alleged part in a blackmail and sex tape case has been resolved, the BBC reports.

The 27-year-old striker could miss Euro 2016, which starts in France in June.

Benzema has been placed under formal investigation by a French judge over an alleged bid to blackmail France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex video.

The Real Madrid forward denies any wrongdoing but if found guilty, could face a minimum of five years in prison.

France Football Federation president Noel le Graet, who had previously supported Benzema, said it was a “heart-breaking” decision to suspend him.

But he added: “I have decided that he is not available for selection.”

According to French media, Benzema mentioned the tape to Lyon midfielder Valbuena, 31, during a national team training session at Clairefontaine on 5 October.

Benzema, who scored a hat-trick for Real Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday, told police he was advising a friend about what to do in a difficult situation.

But he was handed preliminary charges of complicity in attempted blackmail and participation in a criminal conspiracy by the judge in November.

When a suspect is placed under formal investigation, a judge will then determine whether there is sufficient evidence for the suspect to be formally charged.

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