President of the French Football Federation (FFF) Noel Le Graet has offered Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema words of encouragement after he was charged with complicity in an attempt to blackmail and participating in a criminal conspiracy as part of an investigation into a sex-tape plot involving France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.
Benzema spent the night in custody in Versailles after giving himself up for questioning and was on Thursday charged after being put before a judge on allegations he was part of a plan to blackmail the Lyon midfielder.
Nevertheless, Le Graet has stressed the FFF are fully behind Benzema as he remains innocent at this stage.
“I have a lot of affection for Karim. He is a great player and a great person. We will not let him down,” Le Graet told I-Tele.
“Nothing is definitive as of yet. It would not be the first time someone is taken into custody and then cleared of all charges the day after. There is no such thing as a Benzema affair. We have to wait until justice runs its course and a final decision is made.
“I have no proof he did anything wrong and I will not condemn him. I hope Benzema and Valbuena will be friends again one day.
“Benzema has been an easy target for many. He has been condemned before he could even defend himself. At this stage I believe in his innocence.”
Meanwhile, the French secretary of state for sports, Thierry Braillard, has praised national team coach Didier Deschamps – who has not selected Benzema for his latest squad – for his decision not to comment on the matter at this stage.
“I think Deschamps has good reasons to protect his players. These matters off the pitch could have an impact on the national side, but Deschamps has managed the situation intelligently,” Braillard was quoted as saying by L’Equipe.
“For me, this whole situation has nothing to do with football.
“But it is important that football remains all about sport and not about money. Money can make people do crazy things.”