VERSAILLES, France – French and Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema was sentenced on Wednesday to one year probation and a $ 84,000 fine in a six-band case that shook French football.
Benzema was found guilty of having been involved in an 2015 attempt to blackmail France’s teammate Mathieu Valbuena.
The Versailles court decision is unlikely to affect Benzema’s immediate sporting future. The forward is considered one of the favorites to win the Ballon d’Or award on November 29 in Paris after an impressive season with Madrid. The president of the French league Noel Le Great has already said that Benzema would be allowed to continue playing with France even if he were found guilty.
Benzema’s lawyers said he would appeal.
Benzema, who denied the crime, did not attend the trial in Versailles last month and was absent from the verdict. The four other defendants were also found guilty and did not appear in court on Wednesday.
Prosecutors had demanded that Benzema be fined 75,000 euros, the maximum allowed on the charge, and sentenced to 10 months probation if convicted.
Benzema was charged with complicity in the extortion attempt because of a sex tape that was believed to have been stolen from Valbuena’s mobile phone.
Following preliminary accusations in November 2015, Benzema was released from the French national team by coach Didier Deschamps. As a result, Benzema missed the European Championships in 2016 and also the World Cup in 2018, which was won by France.
Deschamps recalled Benzema ahead of the delayed European Championship 2020 tournament and has since fielded him regularly.