France coach Didier Deschamps makes U-turn over Karim Benzema's international future

Benzema had previously claimed Deschamps "bowed to racist pressure" by excluding him from the squad over looming blackmail offences

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France head coach Didier Deschamps has performed a U-turn on Karim Benzema's exclusion from the international squad, even hinting that he could soon return to the fold.

The Real Madrid forward has not featured for Les Bleus since being charged with conspiracy to blackmail in 2015, as part of an investigation over a sex tape involving France teammate Mathieu Valbuena.

It meant that Benzema missed France's Euro 2016 campaign on home soil, a decision taken by FFP President Noel Le Graet and Didier Deschamps and explained in a statement:

"Sporting performance is an important criteria but not exclusive," it said.

"The ability of players to work towards unity, within and around the squad, exemplarity and the preservation of the squad are also taken into account.

"As a result, Noel Le Graet and Didier Deschamps have decided that Karim Benzema will not be able to take part in Euro 2016."


Karim Benzema (l) was excluded, while Mathieu Valbuena (r) didn't even go to Euro 2016 (AFP/ Getty Images)

But just six months later, and with no change in the legal status of Benzema's case, Deschamps performed an about turn in an interview with Le Parisien.

"If I think it's good for the national team to recall Karim, I'll do it," he said.

"I only make sporting choices based on asking myself if they are in the interest of the France team. The institution is above everything.

"What happened happened, but I'm not angry with him. A national team is not 'him, I like, him, I don't like.' He remains one of the best French strikers."

At the time of his exclusion, Benzema had claimed that Deschamps was "bowing to the pressure of a racist part of France," Benzema told Marca.

"He has to know that in France the extremist party reached the second round in the last two elections.

"I do not know, therefore, whether it is a decision only for Didier because I've gotten along with him, with the president, everyone."