Karim Benzema has been recalled to the French national team for the first time in almost six years for the upcoming European Championships.
The 33-year-old striker has not played for his country since 2015 after he was suspended by the national team for his alleged involvement in a scheme to blackmail his former teammate Mathieu Valbuena.
The case relates to the existence of a sex tape which features Valbuena. Benzema is accused of pressuring Valbuena, who played alongside the Real Madrid star on the French national team, to pay blackmailers to prevent the video from becoming public.
Benzema must answer the charge of “complicity in attempted blackmail,” the prosecutor of the Versailles Tribunal confirmed to CNN in January. When the investigation first started, Benzema denied the allegations. He could face up to five years in prison if found guilty.
The trial is set to take place from October 20-22, according to the Guardian.
Benzema has been in brilliant form for Real Madrid this season, scoring 29 goals in 45 appearances and, oftentimes, single-handedly keeping his team competitive.
Los Blancos reached the semifinals of the Champions League, eventually losing to Chelsea, and go into the final round of the La Liga season two points behind leader and city rival Atlético Madrid.
Benzema has 27 goals in 81 games for France and will lead the line for arguably the most talented squad at Euro 2020, with many oddsmakers listing France as the favorite to win the competition.
Euro 2020, which was delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, is set to begin on June 11, with France featuring in Group F – dubbed the ‘Group of Death’ – alongside Germany, Portugal and Hungary.
Benzema missed France’s run to the final of the previous European Championships in 2016, where the team lost to Portugal in extra time, and the French World Cup win in 2018.
George Ramsay and Pierre Bairin contributed to this report