French Prime Minister Manuel Valls took a swipe at Real Madrid and France striker Karim Benzema on Tuesday, saying that great sportsmen should set a moral example.
“A great sportsman should set an example. So many kids, so many young people… see themselves in well-known sports people,” Valls told Europe 1 radio.
“Therefore, this sportsman — and this applies to Karim Benzema or others — must be exemplary. And if he is not, then he should not be in the France team.”
Benzema’s international future is in jeopardy as he faces trial for his alleged involvement in a blackmail case linked to a sex tape featuring his France teammate Mathieu Valbuena.
Valls said if a minister was facing trial, he would have to leave the government.
“In one way, it’s the same. When you take on responsibilities, when you are in the French team, you must set an example,” the prime minister said.
One of the legal conditions attached to the case is that Benzema is banned from seeing Valbuena, meaning that less than a year before France hosts the Euro 2016 championships, they cannot train together.
Sources in the investigation say Benzema, 27, offered to act as a go-between for a childhood friend by approaching Valbuena about the tape on behalf of blackmailers seeking to extract money from him.