The French Football Federation (FFF) has ruled Karim Benzema out of Euro 2016 selection, citing the need “to work towards unity” in the squad.
Benzema was suspended from national team duty by the FFF in December pending the outcome of a legal investigation into an alleged plot to blackmail fellow international Mathieu Valbuena.
With the investigation still ongoing, and following a meeting between FFF president Noel Le Graet and national team coach Didier Deschamps on Wednesday, the Real Madrid striker will not be reinstated to the national team for the European Championship this year.
“The evidence available in this case does not clearly establish the involvement of different actors, including Mr Benzema, and he will return to the court to establish the responsibilities of the protagonists,” read a statement from the FFF.
“In light of these elements, and the partial lifting of the judicial review of Mr Benzema, which made his selection for France again possible, there is no obstacle, in legal terms, relating to his selection.
“Based on this analysis, Mr Le Graet and Mr Deschamps met to discuss the situation of Mr Benzema. The president of the federation and the coach wish to recall that sporting performance is an important, but not exclusive, criterion in determining selection for the France national team.
“The ability of players to work towards unity, in and around the group, setting an example and the preservation of the group are also taken into account by all of the selectors in the Federation.
“As a result, Noel Le Graet and Didier Deschamps decided that Karim Benzema will not participate in Euro 2016.”
Benzema was disappointed with the decision but offered thanks for the support he has received.
Malheureusement pour moi et pour tous ceux qui m’ont toujours soutenu et supporté. Je ne serai pas sélectionné pour notre Euro en France…
— Karim Benzema (@Benzema) April 13, 2016
“Sadly for me and for all who have backed and supported me, I will not be selected for the Euros in France,” he posted on his official Twitter account.
Benzema has been charged with complicity in an attempt to blackmail and participating in a criminal conspiracy as part of a sex-tape plot involving Valbuena, which he denies.
In March, it looked as though the 28-year-old was a step closer to a return to the France set-up when an order preventing him from meeting his international team-mate was lifted on appeal.
However, any potential for a return in the friendly matches against Netherlands and Russia last month was scuppered by a hamstring injury.
The striker’s last appearance for France came in the 4-0 friendly victory over Armenia, when he scored twice, in October last year.
Despite the ongoing controversy, Benzema has scored 25 goals in 29 appearances in all competitions for Madrid this season.
France get Euro 2016 underway with the Group A clash against Romania at the Stade de France on June 10.
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