France striker Karim Benzema has complained that the national team manager Didier Deschamps “bowed to the pressure of a racist part of France” when making the decision to omit him from the squad for the Euro 2016 tournament.

Karim Benzema Accuses Manager Didier Deschamps Of ‘Bowing To Racists’

Benzema has scored 27 goals in 81 appearances for his country, but will not participate in the championship finals on home soil this summer after being suspended by the French Football Federation (FFF) last December.

The decision related to the Real Madrid forward being placed under criminal investigation over an attempt to blackmail international teammate Mathieu Valbuena in relation to a sex-tape. FFF president Noël Le Graët stated it was crucial for the sake of “strong harmony” within the squad that Benzema, 28, was not chosen to play.

Deschamps, 47, supported the decision, something Benzema criticized in an interview with Spanish newspaper Marca, alleging it had more to do with his North African origins than the scandal with Valbuena.


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“He [Deschamps] has bowed to the pressure of a racist part of France,” said Benzema, who is of Algerian heritage. “He has to know that in France the extremist party reached the second round in the last two elections.”

The striker scored 29 goals for Real Madrid last season as the club finished second in La Liga and won the Champions League.

“I do not know, therefore, whether it is a decision only for Didier because I’ve gotten along with him, with the president, everyone,” Benzema continued. “I do not have a problem with anyone. I am with France and wish them well.”

Benzema’s remarks come on the heels of those made by former Manchester United forward Eric Cantona, 50, who in an interview with the Guardian questioned Deschamps’ decision to leave not only Benzema but also OGC Nice midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa, who is also of North African heritage, out of France’s Euro 2016 squad.

“Deschamps, he has a really French name,” Cantona said. “Maybe he is the only one in France to have a truly French name. Nobody in his family mixed with anybody, you know. Like the Mormons in America.

“So I’m not surprised he used the situation of Benzema not to take him,” Cantona continued. “Especially after [Manuel] Valls [the French prime minister] said he should not play for France. And Ben Arfa is maybe the best player in France today. But they have some origins. I am allowed to think about that.”

Deschamps’ lawyer, Carlos Brusa, responded to Cantona’s comments by saying he was launching proceedings against the former Man U star to penalize “the unacceptable slanderous and defamatory statements that harm Mr Deschamps’s integrity”. Le Graët also described Cantona’s remarks as “ridiculous”.

France’s junior minister for sports, Thierry Braillard, took to Twitter to call Benzema’s statements to Marca “unjustified and unacceptable. Total support to FFF and Didier Deschamps”.

Here is the final 23-man French squad selected to play in Euro 2016:

Goalkeepers: Benoit Costil (Rennes), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Marseille).

Defenders: Lucas Digne (Roma), Patrice Evra (Juventus), Christophe Jallet (Lyon), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Eliaquim Mangala (Manchester City), Samuel Umtiti (Lyon), Bacary Sagna (Manchester City), Adil Rami (Sevilla).

Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (Crystal Palace), Morgan Scheiderlin (Manchester United), N’Golo Kante (Leicester), Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint-Germain), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle).

Forwards: Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Andre-Pierre Gignac (Tigres), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Anthony Martial (Manchester United), Dimitri Payet (West Ham).

The tournament begins in Paris on June 10.

MADRID, SPAIN – OCTOBER 04:  Karim Benzema of Real Madrid celebrates after scoring Real’s opening goal during the La Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Real Madrid at Vicente Calderon Stadium on October 4, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

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