Benzema steps closer to Euro 2016 as Valbuena meeting ban lifted

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema's hopes of playing for France at the home Euro 2016 championships were boosted Friday as an appeal court lifted the ban on him meeting national team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.

Benzema has been charged with complicity in an attempted extortion of Valbuena over an alleged sex tape.

"We are working feverishly to prove the innocence of Benzema, and this is a first step," his lawyer, Sylvain Cormier, was quoted by sports paper L'Equipe.

Benzema had been suspended from the national team, putting his participation in the European Championship to be held in France from June 10 in jeopardy, but coach Didier Deschamps can now elect to pick him once more.

The French Football Federation (FFF) posted a brief response online, echoing that the decision was a "first step."

And it added the FFF was now considered a recognized civil party in the case.

The 28-year-old Benzema faces a lengthy bid to clear his name and could face five years imprisonment if found guilty. A blackmailer has reportedly demanded 150,000 euros (163,000 dollars) from Lyon player Valbuena to prevent publication of the sex video, with Benzema allegedly acting as an intermediary.

Last update: Fri, 11/03/2016 - 12:12
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