Karim Benzema recalled by France for delayed Euro 2020

Recall ends the striker’s five-and-a-half-year absence over alleged role in a blackmail plot.

Benzema made the last of his 81 appearances for France in a friendly against Armenia in October 2015 [Eric Gaillard/Reuters]

Karim Benzema has been named in France’s provisional Euro 2020 squad, giving the Real Madrid striker an international recall after a five-and-a-half-year absence over his alleged role in a blackmail plot.

The 33-year-old has not played for France since October 2015, but is now set to line up alongside World Cup winners Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann at the delayed European Championship, which gets under way on June 11.

Benzema had not been selected since the sex-tape scandal involving former international team-mate Mathieu Valbuena broke in 2015.

His hopes of a recall seemed to recede in January this year when French prosecutors said they had decided to send Benzema and four others on trial.

The case revolves around a plot to extort money from Valbuena by threatening to make a sex video public.

Benzema made the last of his 81 appearances for France in a friendly against Armenia in October 2015, scoring twice to take his international tally to 27.

After that, France coach Didier Deschamps refused to pick the striker until he was included on Tuesday.

Benzema missed France’s run to the final of the last Euros in 2016, and missed out on the French glory at the 2018 World Cup.

“As long as Didier Deschamps is coach, I will have no chance of returning to the French team,” Benzema had said before the 2018 World Cup.

With UEFA allowing nations to name 26 players instead of the normal 23 for the Euros to relieve the pressure of potential COVID-19 cases, and Benzema in blazing form for Real, Deschamps has had a change of heart.

This season, Benzema has scored 20 goals for Real Madrid in the league with a game to go, the third-best tally in La Liga, eight behind Lionel Messi and one behind Gerard Moreno of Villarreal.

Source: News Agencies