European papers react to Benzema's France recall after six years away

‘Pardoned’: French and Spanish papers react to Karim Benzema’s shock France recall after six years out in the cold following alleged sex-tape blackmail… as L’Equipe reveal Didier Deschamps first considered Real Madrid star’s return back in March

  • Karim Benzema has been handed shock recall to the France squad for Euro 2020
  • He has not played for his country since 2015 after alleged sex-tape blackmail 
  • Front pages of sports newspapers in France and Spain reacted to the huge news
  • L’Equipe claim Didier Deschamps first considered Benzema’s return in March 

Karim Benzema’s shock recall to the France squad for Euro 2020 has got the European papers talking, with L’Equipe revealing that Didier Deschamps first considered the decision back in March.

Sports papers in both France and Spain – where Benzema plays his club football for Real Madrid – have led on the story on Wednesday morning, the day after the striker’s return was confirmed after six years left out in the cold.

The front page of AS in Spain leads with the headline ‘Pardoned’, citing that he will form a ‘dream attack alongside Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann’.

Front pages of both AS in Spain and L’Equipe in France carried news of Karim Benzema’s return

Real Madrid’s Benzema has been brought in from the cold after six years in international exile 

They also carry a quote from the manager, who stated ‘the team is more important than me’.

In France, meanwhile, L’Equipe lead with the headline ‘The Chef’s Surprise’, using the title of a French film to detail the big shock ahead of this summer’s tournament.

The paper then go into more detail about Deschamps’ decision, detailing that the recall was first considered back in March at an international team meeting.

From there, the feeling is said to have grown in Deschamps’ mind, before he called a meeting with the Real Madrid forward to discuss, at length, the conditions for his potential return after so long away from the group.

Deschamps confirmed on Tuesday that his decision was taken that same day, ‘but in my head, [it has been] a while.’  

L’Equipe report that Didier Deschamps (right) first considered Benzema’s return in March 

Benzema is suspected of having pressured former France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena (C) to pay blackmailers who threatened to reveal an intimate video in which Valbuena featured


Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham); Mike Maignan (Lille); Steve Mandanda (Marseille)

Defenders: Lucas Digne (Everton); Leo Dubois (Lyon); Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich); Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain); Jules Kounde (Sevilla); Clement Lenglet (Barcelona); Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich); Raphael Varane (Real Madrid); Kurt Zouma (Chelsea)

Midfielders: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea); Thomas Lemar (Atletico Madrid); Paul Pogba (Manchester United); Adrien Rabiot (Juventus); Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham); Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich)

Forwards: Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco); Karim Benzema (Real Madrid); Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich); Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona); Olivier Giroud (Chelsea); Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona); Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain); Marcus Thuram (Borussia Moenchengladbach)

The experienced striker had been cast aside by manager Deschamps since 2015 following his alleged role in the sex-tape blackmail of former France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.

Benzema is suspected of encouraging Valbuena to co-operate with blackmailers, who threatened to release an intimate video in which he featured.

Investigators who charged Benzema believe he was approached by a childhood friend to act as an intermediary and convince Valbuena to deal directly with the blackmailers. Instead, Valbuena informed the police. 

When the story broke, Benzema faced a deluge of criticism and then-Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the former Lyon player had ‘no place’ in the national team. He had been unable to repair relations and return for his country until now. 

It is understood that Benzema will go on trial from Wednesday, October 20 to Friday, October 22 this year. He denies any wrongdoing and four other people will also stand trial in the case.

Originally, it was reported that Benzema would face trial in January. At the time, he posted a screenshot of a story by L’Equipe about the update and asked his 36.9million Instagram followers when will the ‘farce’ come to an end. 

Reacting to news of the trial, Benzema’s lawyer Sylvian Cormier described the decision as ‘absurd’. 

Despite the case hanging over him, there have been calls for a while now to hand Benzema a recall to international duty following years of superb form for Spanish giants Real Madrid.

Benzema has produced one of his best campaigns this season with 29 goals in all competitions so far, and his fine form has now been rewarded.

Benzema (left) has 81 France caps but will now hope to add to that at this summer’s Euros

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