Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has been handed a suspended prison sentence after being found guilty of a tape blackmail plot against his former teammate Mathieu Valbuen. The 33-year-old will not be physically in the four walls of the prison as he was given a one-year suspended sentence by a Versailles court, near Paris. It was gathered that president of the French football federation Noel Le Great earlier stated that the striker will remain part of the Les Blues even if found guilty.
Benzema is also one of the favourites for the Ballon d’Or which will hold next week, but he had denied any wrongdoing even though he was not personally in court. The forward is billed to be in action when Real Madrid take on Sheriff Tiraspol in the Champions League on Wednesday November 24. It will be recalled that he also escaped trial last month as he chose to train with his club before their El Clasico clash against Barcelona. Findings have it that the case earlier plunged the French football space into crisis when it’s initial charges were brought in 2015.
Consequently, the Los Blancos forward was exiled from the France national football team for five years and was forced to miss the European Championship in 2016 as well as the 2018 World Cup which France won. Benzema, often rated one of the world’s best players, had called the allegations “absurd” while Valbuena, who won 52 caps for France, was also dropped in the wake of the bombshell case. He first lodged a complaint with cops in June 2015 after being phoned by an unknown person about the tape. Reports say the world’s football governing body FIFA has revealed the candidates shortlisted for The Best FIFA Football Awards 2021, the winner of which will be revealed at an online ceremony on January 17, 2022.
Benzema was named in a 10-man list of nominees which was unveiled on FIFA website, including Barcelona legend Lionel Messi and Manchester United striker Cristiano Ronaldo. The pair have dominated both the FIFA awards and Ballon d’Or in the last one and a half decade, but that of this year will be tightly contested with Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski also on the list.