Karim Benzema: Real Madrid star suspended by France over blackmail case

    Story highlights

    • Karim Benzema suspended by France over ongoing blackmail case
    • Real Madrid star could miss the European Championships in 2016
    • Benzema's attorney says he is innocent of plot to extort money from team-mate

    (CNN)One of France's biggest soccer stars looks set to miss the 2016 European Championships after he was suspended from national duty for his alleged involvement in a blackmail plot.

    Karim Benzema, who plays for Spanish giants Real Madrid, has been implicated in a scheme to blackmail fellow player Mathieu Valbuena.
      Now French Football Federation (FFF) president Noel Le Graet has taken a "personal decision" that Benzema is to be excluded and has informed coach Didier Deschamps.
        The 27-year-old is under investigation for "complicity in blackmailing and participating in criminal association with intent to organize a crime," according to the Versailles prosecutor's office.
        The statement used the French term "mise en examen" -- a legal status that allows prosecutors to investigate someone accused of criminal activity for up to two years.
        A source close to the investigation told AFP it surrounded the existence of a purported sex tape.
        Benzema denies the charges but could face up to five years in prison if found guilty. He now looks set to miss Euro 2016, which is hosted by France, with no immediate resolution likely.
        "Today, Benzema is no longer eligible for selection," Le Graet told reporters. "I know you'll say, 'But it's Christmas so it's easy, there are no matches.' There are no matches, but there will be in March.