#AEDH – BENZEMA TO PLAY FOR FRANCE WITH SEX-TAPE ‘RIVAL’ VALBUENA

France's national soccer team players Mathieu Valbuena (R) and Karim Benzema (L) attend a training session in preparation for the upcoming 2014 World Cup, in Clairefontaine, near Paris, France, in this June 4, 2014 file photo. France soccer International and Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema appears in court on Thursday November 5, 2015 after being questioned by French police in connection with an inquiry into an alleged attempt to blackmail fellow-France soccer international Mathieu Valbuena. Picture taken June 4, 2014.   REUTERS/Charles Platiau/Files

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema will technically be eligible to play for France at

Euro 2016 after certain legal restrictions were lifted in the sex tape blackmail

investigation that has rocked French football.

Benzema is being probed for his part in an alleged plot to blackmail national team-

mate Mathieu Valbuena. He was initially not allowed to contact Valbuena, meaning

they could not be in the same squad, but an appeals court has partially lifted some

of these terms.

Currently injured, Benzema was suspended by France in December, a ban that had

been due to remain until the end of court proceedings. An investigating judge last

month lifted the order keeping Benzema and Lyon playmaker Valbuena apart, but

the prosecutor appealed. That was dismissed on Friday. If found guilty, Benzema

could face a minimum of five years in prison but his lawyer, Sylvain Cormier,

described the latest ruling as “a first step” in proving the striker’s innocence.

The 27-year-old has scored 27 goals in 81 appearances for his country but there is no

guarantee the investigation will be completed before the country hosts Euro 2016 in

June.

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Jeriah Udi

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