Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has accused Didier Deschamps of ‘bowing to pressure from a racist part of France’ in leaving him out of Euro 2016.
Benzema was dropped for the summer tournament over his alleged involvement in an attempt to blackmail Mathieu Valbuena but the forward, of Algerian descent, has told an interview with Marca that he believes national team Coach Deschamps has folded under the stress of rising far-right support.
“He’s bowed to the pressure of a racist part of France. He has to know that in France an extremist party reached the second round in the last two elections. I don’t know, therefore, if it’s a decision for Didier only because I’ve gotten along with him, with the President, everyone,” Benzema said.
“On a sporting level I have a place in the team. A few stories have been invented and it is hard, of course, to accept it and to forget it. I’m lucky that I’ve felt at all times Madrid by my side. In addition I’ve won the Champions League and I’ve taken it slightly better.
“I get a lot of criticism in France, me, my family and my environment, but if I was a bad person, misguided, I wouldn’t be where I am now. Five years with Lyon, seven with Madrid, winning trophies.
“Play for France again? Sure. A rule has been invented. Un-selectable. But on a sporting level I don’t understand why and at the judicial level I haven’t been tried, I’m not guilty, so we’ll have to wait and see what the justice says. The moment I’m selectable, when they want me, that’s not a problem. I want to play and play with my national team.
“In this story [the Valbuena affair] only one person knows what happened, the truth, and that’s Valbuena. He’s played a role, not told the truth, because everything comes from there. I wanted to help him, nothing more, and it’s gone against me.
“You can’t be spiteful in life. You have to learn from mistakes and in difficult times like this, think. I’m calm, centred, I’ve won as much as possible with my club. France is going to realise they have been unfair with me.
“I had the shock of [being left out in] 2010 but the European Championships at home is even harder. This is one of the biggest disappointments I’ve had, no doubt, but in my life I’ve had difficult moments. But you have to get back up, and I want to go as far as possible in my career.
“Florentino Perez has always supported me and he has been behind me, and now Zinedine Zidane, and the fans have shown me their strength at times. Zidane is like my big brother and although I talk to him in his office, I know full well if I’m not playing well, I won’t play.”