France and Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema has been sentenced to a year in prison with a one-year suspension and a fine of 75,000 euros ($84,000) in a sex-tape case that shook French soccer.


The Real Madrid striker was given a one-year suspended sentence by a French court on Wednesday for his role in trying to blackmail his former France teammate Mathieu Valbuena with a sex tape. The sentence was tougher than prosecutors had sought for the 33-year-old player in connection with an extortion attempt in 2015, which resulted in Benzema's five-and-a-half-year ban from the France team.

If a person is given a suspended sentence, they are given a prison sentence that they must serve if they commit another crime within a certain time period.

The Versailles court's decision is highly doubtful to have an immediate impact on Benzema's sporting future. Following an impressive season with Real Madrid, the forward is considered one of the favourites to win the Ballon d'Or award on Nov. 29 in Paris.

Even if Benzema is found guilty, French federation president Noel Le Great had stated that he will be allowed to continue playing for France.

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Benzema's lawyers have stated that he will file an appeal.

Benzema, who denied wrongdoing, was not present at the trial in Versailles last month and was not present when the verdict was announced. The four other defendants were found guilty as well.

One of his lawyers, Sylvain Cormier, told reporters outside the courthouse that he was "quite stunned" by the ruling.

The prosecution had requested a 10-month suspended sentence for Benzema, who was one of five people charged in connection with an affair that rattled the French national team.

Benzema was charged with aiding and abetting a blackmail attempt involving a sex tape stolen from Valbuena's cellphone.

Benzema was dropped from France's national team by coach Didier Deschamps after preliminary charges were filed in November 2015. As a result, Benzema was unable to compete in the 2016 European Championship and the 2018 World Cup, which France won.

Deschamps recalled Benzema ahead of the postponed Euro 2020 tournament and has fielded him on a regular basis since then.


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