Valbuena has 'no animosity' towards Benzema

National team-mates Mathieu Valbuena (left) and Karim Benzema at a France training session in June. Investigations are continuing into the sex tape blackmail case.
National team-mates Mathieu Valbuena (left) and Karim Benzema at a France training session in June. Investigations are continuing into the sex tape blackmail case.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS • Mathieu Valbuena's lawyer said the France player feels "no particular animosity" towards his national team-mate Karim Benzema, who has been charged in the sex tape blackmail affair involving the midfielder.

"There was no animosity before and there still is none," said Didier Domat, representing Valbuena, as he called for "prudence" after extracts were released to the press of telephone recordings of Benzema discussing the affair.

"One cannot remain indifferent to what one sees in the press. Certainly if we discover that all this is true, he (Valbuena) will not be his friend," continued the lawyer for the 31-year-old Lyon player.

Benzema, 27, was last Thursday charged with complicity to blackmail and conspiring to commit a criminal act, charges that carry a prison sentence of at least five years, in relation to a sex tape featuring Valbuena. He was also banned from meeting Valbuena.

French radio station Europe 1 on Tuesday reported extracts of investigators' transcripts of a phone conversation on Oct 6 between Benzema and a friend, who is presented as an intermediary for the presumed blackmailers.

In the extract, Benzema discusses with the friend, Karim Zenati, an exchange he had with Valbuena the previous day during a France squad get-together. He is said to have told Valbuena: "If you want the video to be destroyed, my friend will come to see you in Lyon. Speak to him.

"You can see everything. As far as I am concerned, you can do as you wish. If you don't want to, it's your life, I warned you."

Domat added: "We will not make assumptions until we have studied the case."

Valbuena will soon give evidence to the examining magistrate in Versailles, near Paris.

Meanwhile, Benzema's agent Sylvain Cormier on Tuesday denied that his client was in any way involved in blackmailing Valbuena and said the Real Madrid striker would make an official complaint about police inquiry leaks.

Benzema's lawyer also deplored that "snippets of conversation (were) carefully selected to be shown to the public".

"During the conversation... Karim Benzema declared that he had told Mathieu Valbuena not to pay. This declaration apparently does not interest anybody."

Both players were left out of the France squad by manager Didier Deschamps for the friendly matches against Germany tomorrow and England four days later.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 12, 2015, with the headline 'Valbuena has 'no animosity' towards Benzema'. Print Edition | Subscribe