France’s top scorer Karim Benzema on Wednesday accused coach Didier Deschamps of bowing to pressure from a “racist” political party by not choosing him for the country’s Euro 2016 squad.
The Real Madrid striker, who is being investigated over an alleged sex-tape blackmail case, questioned whether Deschamps left him out because of his Algerian descent.
The comments echo similar accusations from French legend Eric Cantona, who last week said Deschamps had excluded Benzema and Hatem Ben Arfa because of their North African heritage — drawing a threat of legal action from the coach’s lawyer.
Benzema told Spanish daily Marca that Deschamps “bowed to pressure from a racist French party” in his selection, referencing the recent electoral success of France’s far-right National Front.
“I do not know if this decision was only down to Didier, because I get along with him, with the president (of the French Football Federation, Noel Le Graet) and everyone,” he said.
Benzema was suspended from international duty in December over a legal investigation into an alleged attempt by one of his friends to blackmail his teammate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape.
France’s leading goal-scorer faces up to five years in jail over accusations he encouraged Valbuena to pay the blackmailers.