Paris: French striker Karim Benzema has hit back following his country’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls’ criticism of his ethical respect.
“I’m not the French Football Federation’s president or Didier Deschamps, but I think there’re no grounds for Benzema to come into the France team. He’s still under investigation,” said Valls while speaking to French broadcaster RMC on Tuesday, reports Xinhua.
Benzema was just lifted legal restrictions over his alleged involvement in national team-mate Mathieu Valbuena’s sex-tape case, paving the way for the Real Madrid forward to play for the French national team.
His lawyer Sylvain Cormier described Friday’s decision as “a first step” before they proved the 28-year-old footballer is innocent.
“A great sportsman must be an example for our youth,” said Valls. “Football is our legacy. It’s not just relevant to the fans. We have to be careful. All acts and decisions have their importance.”
The PM’s voice echoed French sports minister Patrick Kanner, who also said earlier that “the conditions had not been met” for Benzema’s return and questioned his level of respect for the ethics of the France team.
Frustrated by these comments, Benzema wrote on his official Twitter account on Tuesday: “Twelve seasons as a professional: 541 matches played, 0 red cards, 11 yellow cards!!! And some people talk about my exemplariness???”
Earlier last November, a French judge placed Benzema under formal investigation, accusing him of blackmailing fellow French international Valbuena over a sex-tape.
Both players were omitted from the national squad just an hour after Benzema was charged, while the striker was not allowed to come into contact with Valbuena, a Lyon and French midfielder.
Benzema, who could serve up to five years if convicted, has denied any wrongdoing.