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Benzema has been left out of France’s World Cup squad after a long-running dispute with the French Football Federation.

French national team striker Karim Benzema will not be at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The Real Madrid star has been excluded from Didier Deschamps’ squad for the tournament after a long-running dispute with the French Football Federation (FFF). Benzema is currently under investigation over an alleged attempt to blackmail international teammate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape. The investigation began in 2015, but no charges have yet been brought against him.

The 31-year-old, who was also left out of France’s Euro 2016 squad due to the ongoing scandal, was initially cleared by a judge in July 2017. However, he was later charged again by prosecutors and is currently on bail awaiting trial. The FFF announced on May 16th that they would not be selecting Benzema for this summer’s tournament as they felt it would be “unfair” to do so while he was facing possible criminal charges.

What is Benzema accused of?

In November 2015, French tabloid magazine Closer published images of Karim Benzema allegedly meeting with an intermediary in order to blackmail international teammate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape involving the Lyon midfielder and his wife. It has since emerged that these pictures were taken two years earlier and are not related to any potential blackmailing scheme. However, prosecutors opened an investigation into allegations that both players attempted to blackmail each other over the tape.

Why does it matter?

The FFF have come under criticism for their decision to exclude Benzema from their World Cup squad due to what some see as double standards. In 2015, Hatem Ben Arfa was allowed to play at Euro 2016 despite being charged with assaulting his girlfriend just days before the tournament began.

Ben Arfa denied assaulting his partner on three separate occasions but was found guilty by a judge in February 2017 and sentenced to six months imprisonment with two suspended. He will serve no time behind bars due to having already spent 10 months in custody while awaiting trial.

Deschamps defended his decision not select Ben Arfa at Euro 2016 by saying he had “to take into account all circumstances” when making his decisions regarding player selection.