France’s top scorer Karim Benzema on Wednesday accused coach Didier Deschamps of bowing to pressure from a “racist” political party by not choosing him for the country’s Euro 2016 squad .
The Real Madrid striker, who is being investigated over an alleged sex-tape blackmail case, questioned whether Deschamps left him out because of his Algerian descent.
The comments echo similar accusations from French legend Eric Cantona , who last week said Deschamps had excluded Benzema and Hatem Ben Arfa because of their North African heritage — drawing a threat of legal action from the coach’s lawyer.
Benzema told Spanish daily Marca that Deschamps “bowed to pressure from a racist French party” in his selection, referencing the recent electoral success of France’s far-right National Front.
“I do not know if this decision was only down to Didier, because I get along with him, with the president (of the French Football Federation, Noel Le Graet) and everyone,” he said.
Benzema was suspended from international duty in December over a legal investigation into an alleged attempt by one of his friends to blackmail his team-mate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape.
France’s leading goal-scorer faces up to five years in jail over accusations he encouraged Valbuena to pay the blackmailers.
“They said I cannot be selected, fine. But on a sporting level, I don’t understand why,” he said.