Just who is the idiot in the Valbuena-Benzema sextape affair?

France will host the European Championship next summer. With a team largely intact from the one that reached the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup and coming off a 2-0 friendly win over the World Cup champion Germany, the Blues should be one of the favorites next summer.

There's only one problem: two of their stars, Mathieu Valbuena and Karim Benzema, are embroiled in what the French are calling l'affaire de la sextape, and the national team, it seems, is not big enough for both of them.

The details of the case are by now well known. Valbuena was last summer contacted by a man claiming to be in possession of a sex tape involving Valbuena and his partner and trying to extort money from the French star. Valbuena went to the police and told them what happened, but the next thing he knew Benzema approached him at France's national team camp in October and told him he could help set up a meeting with those who were trying to blackmail him.

Early in November, Benzema was taken into custody and questioned over his involvement in the affair. What he did not know was that police were wiretapping a member of his so-called entourage and others suspected to trying to blackmail Valbuena.

Neither Benzema nor Valbuena was called in by Coach Didier Deschamps for France's friendlies against Germany (a game played the night of the Paris attacks) and England (2-0 loss). And it looks less and less likely that they could ever play again on the same team.

In an interview published by Le Monde, Valbuena spoke for the first time about how Benzema tried to get Valbuena to do what the blackmailers wanted.

"There comes a time when you can't defend the indefensible. I wouldn't even do that to my worst enemy," Valbuena said. "When I went to the first hearing, I couldn't imagine that Karim was involved in this. I can only feel very, very, very let down and now realize that my relationship with Karim wasn't as sincere as he may claim."

Valbuena said he thinks Axel Angot, a hanger-on, copied the tape off his cell phone.

"He's someone who hangs around players," he said. "I knew about him through Djibril Cisse when we played together for Marseille. I had a new cell phone and I wanted to change all my contacts. I asked him to transfer all of that from my computer to my new phone because he's good with technology."

Valbuena said Benzema approached him at the team's Clairefontaine training camp in early October.

"He told me several times," said Valbuena, "that I was dealing with 'some serious thugs.' He told me, 'I know that if it was me, with my family and everything ... you'd need to be strong,' OK, he also said, 'If you don't want to, leave them to it, no problem. But I can introduce you to my friend.' It always came back to that. I'm more than disappointed. It's quite simply a lack of respect. You don't behave like that with anybody. At the end, when I was just leaving, Karim said, 'So what do I do? Shall I give him your number?'"

Valbuena said it was strange that Benzema even suggested he meet with Benzema's friend.

"Karim knows full well — even if we never spoke about money — that if I go and meet this person it's not for peanuts," he said.

But Benzema said Valbuena did not stop there. The Real Madrid star reached Valbuena on the phone of a Lyon staff member while Valbuena's team, Lyon, was about to face Zenit St. Petersburg in the Champions League.

"He said to me, 'Mat, my name's got out, what the hell's going on? I can't be dragged into something like this,'" Valbuena said. "Then [Benzema] told me, 'You're going to have to issue a denial, this will take on huge proportions, I have a daughter and everything.' I told him, 'Karim, this didn't come from me. I just filed a complaint [with the police] like any good citizen would. I can't help it if your name came up several times on the phone taps.'"

The affair, already a front-page story in the French press, escalated when a radio station, Europe 1, published a transcript of a recorded conversation between Benzema and his friend.

"What he said shows a lack of respect," Valbuena said. "I respect everyone, but I get the impression I've been taken for an idiot."

The idiot in his affair is Benzema, who was himself the victim of a blackmail attempt in 2011 when someone tried to blackmail him for $1 million over some compromising photographs of a sexual nature. That case ended when the blackmailer was arrested in a set-up at a bar.

Benzema has been in trouble before. France teammate Franck Ribery and he were acquitted in 2014 for the solicitation of an underage prostitute -- a case that dragged on for four years. Paris Match recently published a devastating profile of Benzema in which he is blamed for all his problems, hanging around childhood friends from the rough suburbs of Lyon -- his infamous entourage -- and believing he can buy anything he wants.

Said his former agent Frederic Guerra, "Karim Benzema's big problem is that he remained close to the mentality of the neighborhoods. He never adapted to the environment in which he lives today."

Benzema could face five years in prison over an alleged sex tape blackmail plot and banishment from the national team. The French federation has petitioned the courts to gain access to the records.
8 comments about "Just who is the idiot in the Valbuena-Benzema sextape affair?".
  1. John Mcdermott, November 27, 2015 at 10 p.m.

    Not the first time the French National Team has had a problem like this. Remember the 1982 team. Michel Platini and Jean-Francois Larios were unable to play in the same squad due to rumors of Larios' having an affair with Madame Platini prior to the 1982 WC.

  2. beautiful game, November 27, 2015 at 10:23 p.m.

    What teammate would tolerate what Benzema pulled off. I'm surprised he's still with Real Madrid...the guy is untrustworthy.

  3. Richard Brown, November 27, 2015 at 11:11 p.m.

    This is a soccer publication. What makes Mr. Kennedy think real soccer people want to hear about this crap. Stick to the game and nothing else. Anything else is not interesting.

  4. Ric Fonseca replied, November 29, 2015 at 2:16 p.m.

    Most "real soccer people" like to and want to read about "real" events even if it is misconstrued by others as "crap...". And, oh, I believe that it has something to do with something called freedom of the press?

  5. Paul Roby, November 28, 2015 at 8:54 a.m.

    It's about soccer when two of France's best players can't be called to their national team because of their legal troubles or bad publicity. By your standards no one here can write about Klinsmann's relationship with Donovan or Dempsey leaving England or a 1000 other relevant topics to our soccer life.

  6. Richard Brown, November 30, 2015 at 10:47 a.m.

    Remember when John harkes and Eric winalda decided to swap wives. Two idiots

  7. Nicholas Concilio, November 30, 2015 at 12:08 p.m.

    They didn't swap wives. Harkes was having an affair with Wynalda's wife. That's why Steve Sampson left Harkes off the 1998 World Cup squad.

  8. beautiful game, November 30, 2015 at 2:42 p.m.

    RB, take a chill pill, anything that concerns top soccer players is news; and especially this shakedown.

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