Real Madrid and France national soccer team striker Karim Benzema dropped his appeal against his one-year suspended sentence for complicity in blackmail in a sex-tape case, his lawyer said Saturday.
Benzema, 34, was handed the one-year suspended jail sentence and a fine of 75,000 euros ($80,000) in last year’s trial by the Versailles Court. He was convicted of involvement in an attempt to blackmail France teammate Mathieu Valbuena in 2015. The five-time UEFA Champions League winner with Los Blancos was also ordered to pay Valbuena 80,000 euros in damages.
After receiving preliminary charges in November 2015, Benzema went from being a first-team regular for France, to ousted from the squad. Benzema’s international career was halted for five years, until France manager Didier Deschamps called him back up to play in the delayed UEFA Euro 2020 competition, where France was defeated by Switzerland in the Round of 16.
As a result of his international career being put on pause, Benzema was not a member of France’s 2018 FIFA World Cup winning team.
Benzema’s lawyer, Hugues Vigier, told the AP that his client “doesn’t want to talk about it anymore. It’s enough.” Vigier cited years and years of legal procedures. Vigier said that Benzema continues to deny any wrongdoings despite dropping his appeal.
“Karim continues to contest the slightest blackmail,” Vigier said. “He is guilty under the law, that’s true. But judicial truth is different from reality.”
Benzema just wrapped up his 13th season with Real Madrid, scoring 52 goals and recording 15 assists across all competitions. Benzema scored 15 goals in the Champions League to help crown Real Madrid as kings of Europe for the record 13th time.