The agent of Karim Benzema has hit out at French attitudes towards the Real Madrid striker after he was suspended from playing for the national team.
Benzema currently stands accused of conspiracy to blackmail international team-mate Mathieu Valbuena over an alleged sex tape and it was confirmed on Thursday by French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet that the former Lyon ace will not be able to turn out of Les Bleus while the case is ongoing.
While Benzema took to Twitter to say that he “respects” the decision, Karim Djaziri feels that his client is the victim of something rather more sinister.
“There is a form of hatred against Karim because of his origins,” he told RMC. “I’ve heard it said that he does not like France. You don’t play 81 times for the French team if you don’t like France.
“He has had to make a difficult choice. He might have played for Algeria, the land of his parents, or the country of his birth, France. He chose France and has proudly represented them 81 times.
“He’s a good looking, young, rich footballer of Maghreb and Muslim descent. He crystallises many things.
“There will be people who don’t like the left, the right, the old, the young and Benzema has many attributes that attract this form of hate.”
Benzema has previously been criticised for his behaviour when playing with the France national side, notably prior to World Cup in 2014 when he was among a group of players that came under fire for not singing the national anthem before kick-off.
“That does not excuse anything,” Djaziri added. “There are huge stars who have not sung La Marseillaise when they received their medals.
“Not all French champions have done it. Tony Park did not sing the Marseillaise but no-one said anything.
“Karim is not a guy who’s going to win a lot of ball or run around everywhere – he’s not a No.6. Footballers must not be judged on their attitude. What we ask is that they’re active to help their side win.”
Djaziri, who admitted he had not spoken to Benzema following the announcement but said that the player would be “calm” because “he knows he has done nothing” wrong, did concede that he understood the decision of the FFF.
“The president was obliged to do something,” he stated. “He could not remain inactive. The decision is not unjust.”
The agent, meanwhile, does not think Benzema’s childhood friends are to blame for the trouble the player finds himself in.
“Not at all,” he said. “I’m extremely proud that he’s kept [close to] them and has not turned his back on them, despite the different paths that they have taken.
“It’s a pleasure to see that he’s a guy who has remained the same since the day I met him when he was 15. Today he’s a world star, he has 30 million fans around the world – unfortunately, only 10 per cent of those are French.”