Benzema incident hangs over Les Bleus

PARIS • France and Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud has admitted that the Karim Benzema sex tape scandal is something "that can pollute the spirit" of the Euro 2016 hosts.

Benzema was suspended indefinitely from the national team in December, after he was placed under investigation over an attempt to blackmail his France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape.

The Real Madrid striker has been accused of complicity in the attempt and remains excluded from national-team duty until a decision over his place in the national team is made on April 15.

"It is something that can pollute our spirit. I try not to think about it as it prevents us from concentrating on matters on the pitch. It is the pitch which is the most important," said Giroud.

The Arsenal striker, who scored in Friday's 3-2 friendly win over the Netherlands in Amsterdam, shrugged off the implications of possibly seeing both Benzema and Valbuena in the French Euro 2016 squad.

"The question does not come up. The objective is to have strikers who complement each other the best," said Giroud.

"I don't ask myself the question of Karim or Valbu. The most important thing today is the team."

Meanwhile, former France international Djibril Cisse said yesterday that he does not care about the ethics involved in Benzema's off-pitch controversies as he feels it is imperative the striker represents his country at Euro 2016.

"The ethical problem? I don't care," Cisse told the French magazine Public. "The issue isn't resolved but it would be a bad idea to not bring Benzema.

"He walks on water on the field and Les Bleus need him."

France coach Didier Deschamps will unveil his 23-man squad for the June 10-July 10 European championship on May 12.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 28, 2016, with the headline 'Benzema incident hangs over Les Bleus'. Print Edition | Subscribe