Former France international Robert Pires fears the sex tape investigation involving national team-mates Mathieu Valbuena and Karim Benzema could negatively impact the hosts’ chances at Euro 2016.
Real Madrid striker Benzema was charged by a court in Versailles last week with complicity in an attempt to blackmail and participating in a criminal conspiracy as part of an investigation into an alleged plot to extort money from former Marseille team-mate Valbuena.
Valbuena is yet to speak to investigators, while Benzema’s agent Sylvain Cormier has protested his client’s innocence and said the France striker is “absolutely calm and beyond reproach”.
Both were left out of Didier Deschamps’ squad for this month’s friendlies against Germany and England, with Benzema still recovering from a thigh injury, while the France boss explained Valbuena was “not in the best of conditions psychologically”.
And Pires, who won the World Cup and European Championship, says the saga could prove damaging to France’s Euro 2016 hopes.
“In my opinion the team is impacted by what’s happening, by this story between Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena,” the ex-Arsenal man told Omnisport.
“Now, we’re not here to say anything about that, the justice [department] has got the case, we have to let them do their job and be patient and we have to wait for the verdict, then we will be able to reflect on it.
“However, it’s not the best preparation, even though these are just friendly games against Germany and England. It’s especially hard for Didier Deschamps because the Euros are six months away so it’ll come fast.
“These two players are important for him, two starters, so it’s not easy. Honestly, it’s not, and I hope that the team is not too impacted by this.”