The 27-year-old Real Madrid forward and French national team player Karim Benzema was charged with blackmailing another footballer and his fellow France national team member Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape. According to investigators, he helped blackmailers to persuade Valbuena to pay money. Otherwise, blackmailers threatened to release the video sometime before the Euro 2016 Championship that France hosts next year.
Sex Tape Blackmail Plot
According to the sports paper L’Equip, a full transcript of the leaked twenty-minute phone call between Benzema and his childhood friend Karim Zenati, that was leaked on Nov. 10, revealed that Benzema tried to convince Valbuena to deal directly with the blackmailers over the sex tape.
Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena are both successful footballers. Since 2009, Benzema plays for a one of the most powerful football clubs in the world—Real Madrid. Most of his career Valbuena spent in French association football club Olympique de Marseille. He also played for Dynamo Moscow. Currently, they both play for the French national team.
The investigation started at the end of July after Valbuena went to the police. He told officers that unknown men contacted him and said that they have an incriminating sex tape apparently recorded with a smartphone. The blackmailers threatened to release the video and demanded a large amount of money for keeping this tape secret.
On Nov. 4, the information about Benzema’s interrogation appeared in the media. He was placed under a formal judicial investigation in connection with an attempt to blackmail Valbuena over a sex-tape. Preliminary charges allow time for police officers to investigate suspects, but can be subsequently dropped under the French law. According to the investigators, there are three men who allegedly managed to get a tape with Valbuena and a young girl.
The Versailles prosecutor said that the alleged crime of conspiracy and participating in a criminal group could carry a prison sentence of at least five years.
On Nov. 10, a leaked transcript of a mobile phone conversation was published in the press to reveal Benzema’s complicity in the scandal. According to the transcript published by the French radio station Europe 1, the footballer told his friend Karim Zenati that he believed Valbuena is not taking the blackmailers seriously. Benzema was trying to convince Valbuena to meet with the criminals.
Judging by the conversation, two friend are talking about a phone call the footballer had with his teammate. The victim clarified whether Benzema saw the video. The blackmail replied “yes”. Benzema said that at one point Valbuena seemed panicked.
The suspected footballer’s attorney Cornier maintains that his client was not involved and that some of his phrases can be misinterpreted. The lawyer believes that the footballer is totally innocent and played no part in any blackmail or even attempted blackmail.
Both Valbuena and Benzema were excluded from the French squad for the recent games against Germany and England.
After the sex scandal, media started to raise other controversial questions related to Karim Benzema. It seems like this scandal was not the France’s first soccer meltdown. For example, at the 2010 World Cup, French squad refused to train after Benzema was kicked off the team. Two months before, the player, as well as two of his teammates, was accused of patronizing an underage prostitute: they allegedly used the services of a 16-year-old prostitute. At another time, the press published the information that he was supposedly involved in a high-profile case of smuggling of drugs to Europe from the Dominican Republic and Ecuador.