Dider Deschamps hasn’t included Karim Benzema in a France squad since the Mathieu Valbuena case emerged in 2015, but he has said that the Real Madrid striker’s allegations of racism remain very present in his mind.
Benzema has been exiled from international football while he awaits trial for the alleged blackmail of former teammate Valbuena.
The 33-year-old, however, has suggested that his Algerian origins are the real reason for his exclusion.
What did Benzema say that Deschamps won’t forgive him for?
“Deschamps has bowed to pressure from a racist part of France,” Benzema told MARCA in 2016.
Deschamps has been very affected by these accusations, which have on occasion turned ugly, with threats made against his family.
“It left its mark. Even if it fades a bit with time, I can’t forget it,” Deschamps said to RTL.
“It’s not just about Karim Benzema, there are comments from other people who carried out this violence against my family.”
Deschamps’ family home has been attacked and he tried to sue Benzema for his comments, but the courts dismissed his claim.
Eric Cantona was one of those who suggested that Benzema’s ethnicity had played a role in Deschamps leaving him out, when he spoke to the Guardian in 2016.
“Benzema and [Hatem] Ben Arfa are two of the best players in France and will not play at the European Championship,” said Cantona.
“And for sure, Benzema and Ben Arfa, their origins are North African. So, the debate is open.”