Mathieu Valbuena said that France teammate Karim Benzema “lied” and “scared” him over a sex-tape blackmail bid, according to testimony published Monday. The account given by the Lyon midfielder, reported by Le Monde newspaper, highlighted tensions even though Valbuena said Sunday he would be ready to play with Benzema at the European Championships this year.
Charges of complicity to attempted blackmail and conspiracy made against Real Madrid striker Benzema have jolted France’s preparations for the Euro 2016. Three men, including a friend of Benzema, have been charged over the blackmail. Benzema has been excluded from the national squad.
Benzema approached Valbuena about the tape at a national training camp in October.
“He assured me he had seen it … he swore on his daughter’s life, he told me it was hot. He scared me,” Valbuena was quoted as telling an investigating judge on Nov. 20.
“He lied to me to make me meet this person, just to help his friend.
“Afterwards I thought Karim is intelligent enough. He knows that if I meet his friend, it won’t be for nothing,” Valbuena added.
Benzema later told investigators had not seen the sex-tape.
France’s star goalscorer is banned from meeting Valbuena and the French federation has said he will not be chosen for the national team until the case it settled.
Valbuena told the TF1 channel on Sunday: “We will see how it goes, but yes, no problem, anything is possible. It wasn’t like it was a murder.”