Didier Deschamps hasn’t called Karim Benzema up to the French national team since the Mathieu Valbuena case broke out according to a report in Marca.
Five years have passed in the meantime, with the legal proceedings still proceeding. Deschamps has never before outlined exactly why he refuses to call on Benzema, but in a recent interview he’s admitted that the striker’s comments about him will never be forgotten.
Benzema had remarked in an interview that Deschamps wasn’t picking him because he was being pressured by a racist sector of French society and that Benzema, as a man of Algerian heritage, wasn’t accepted in the same way a white man would be.
“It’s left a mark,” Deschamps said of the interview. “Even if over time it’s forgotten a bit, I can’t forget it. It’s not only to do with Benzema – there were also other statements from other people that led to this violent act that affects my family.
“When it comes to me as the choice of coach, the tactics, the technical aspect, [such criticism] is normal and doesn’t matter. But here a line is crossed.
“It affects my name, my family. For me, this is unacceptable. Saying such things could lead to verbal and physical aggression, and I’m the one who suffers the consequences. We cannot forget, I cannot forget. I will never forget it.”
The falling out between the two men is unfortunate as it negatively impacts both parties.
Benzema has proven to be one of the most consistent goalscorers in European football, proving integral to Real Madrid last season by scoring 21 goals as they wrestled La Liga back from Barcelona.
Deschamps, meanwhile, has enjoyed great success with France, leading them to the final of Euro 2016 as well as winning the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Benzema would have loved to have partaken in such a moment, and France could have used him.