Karim Benzema has decided to drop his appeal against a one-year suspended sentence handed out after he was found guilty of complicity in the attempted blackmail of Mathieu Valbuena, his lawyer has said.
The Real Madrid striker was handed the sentence along with a €75,000 fine back in November over an extortion case that dated back to 2015 in relation to a sex tape, and saw him exiled from the France national team until his recall last year.
Benzema, who has consistently denied the accusations, was one of five people who stood trial in a case that rocked French football, and it was initially reported he would appeal against the verdict with the hearing set to have taken place over June 30 and July 1.
The 34-year-old’s lawyer, Hugues Vigier, told L’Equipe that his client will withdraw the appeal but will continue to maintain his innocence.
“My client is worn out by this process,” he said. “This withdrawal endorses a ruling of condemnation and apparently guilt. It is a judicial truth.
“But this is not the reality. Karim Benzema will always claim his innocence in this case and he never wanted to participate in a blackmail operation against Mathieu Valbuena.”
Benzema had been accused of helping the four other men blackmail former Les Bleus team-mate Valbuena over an intimate video that had been taken from Valbuena’s mobile phone.
He had originally been expected to attend the Versailles court himself at the appeal. French agency AFP reported that the Versailles court of appeal will notify the relevant parties of the withdrawal order on Tuesday.
Benzema was on target as France were beaten 2-1 by Denmark in the Nations League on Friday.