Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema was charged on Thursday in an extortion case involving a sex tape featuring fellow French international Mathieu Valbuena, with both players omitted from the national squad.
A source in the investigation said Benzema had admitted approaching Valbuena about the sex tape “on behalf of a childhood friend” who himself had been contacted by blackmailers in possession of the sex tape.
But Benzema’s lawyer said the player was innocent and “has admitted nothing at all”.
Benzema, 27, was charged with complicity to blackmail and conspiring to commit a criminal act, the prosecutor’s office in Versailles, outside Paris, said.
The charges carry a prison sentence of at least five years.
He was also banned from meeting 31-year-old Valbuena, a midfielder for French club Lyon where Benzema began his career.
An hour after Benzema was charged, France coach Didier Deschamps said he was leaving both players out of his squad for friendly internationals against Germany and England on November 13 and 17 respectively.
Deschamps said Benzema was injured anyway and he was omitting Valbuena because he was not in the right “psychological” state.
The coach refused to answer other questions on the case.
“The best is to let justice do its work and take the decisions it has to,” Deschamps said.