Lyon midfielder Mathieu Valbuena has spoken of his disappointment at France team-mate Karim Benzema’s reported behaviour in the on-going sex tape blackmail case and suggested their relationship is “not as sincere as he perhaps claims”.
Benzema was charged by a court in Versailles earlier this month 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 Valbuena via the tape.
Benzema’s agent Sylvain Cormier has protested his client’s innocence and said the Real Madrid striker is “absolutely calm and beyond reproach”.
Valbuena gave his side of the story to a Versailles court last week and, in an interview with Le Monde, he addressed an alleged conversation between Benzema and his friend Karim Zenati, excerpts of which have emerged in the media.
In the transcript of what L’Equipe and Europe 1 said was a telephone call made on October 6, Benzema told Zenati that he said to Valbuena: “You need to see this guy [Zenati]. He will come. He will speak to you. If you want the video to be destroyed, come see my friend in Lyon.”
Valbuena told Le Monde that Benzema’s actions were something “I wouldn’t do to my worst enemy”.
“I was obviously disappointed, more than disappointed,” he said. “His comments reflected a lack of respect. I respected everyone but I felt like I was being taken for an idiot.
“He repeated to me many times that I was dealing with some bad people.
“He told me ‘you must be strong. I can introduce you to my friend’.
“We kept going back to that. I was more than disappointed. I told myself that it was quite simply a lack of respect. You can’t behave like that with anyone.”
He added: “Many people want to knock me down, but I’ll get back up, as I’ve always done.
“There comes a time when you can’t defend the indefensible. I wouldn’t do that to my worst enemy.”
Valbuena said it was particularly hard to understand Benzema’s actions, given he was an international colleague.
He said: “When I first went to speak to the police, I couldn’t imagine that Karim Benzema would be involved in it. But okay, the investigators did not wait to hear what was said between Karim and me before investigating him.
“And moreover, the police told me ‘don’t worry, we don’t need your testimony’.
“I can only be very, very disappointed, and with regards my relationship with Karim, it’s not as sincere as he perhaps claims.”
Benzema himself has yet to respond to Valbuena’s comments, although one of his legal representatives Alain Jakubowicz told Infosport+: “The statements of Mr Valbuena do not hinder us in any way.”
Jakubowicz also invited Benzema to “come out and express himself in order to show this is not the man that has been described”.