Le Graet backs Benzema for France comeback

France Football Federation (FFF) president Noel Le Graet hopes Karim Benzema will make his comeback for Les Bleus after Euro 2016 and has no intention of punishing the Real Madrid striker further for his recent comments towards Didier Deschamps.

Benzema was left out of the squad for Euro 2016 pending the outcome of a legal investigation into an alleged plot to blackmail fellow international Mathieu Valbuena.

However, the 28-year-old recently suggested Deschamps had “bowed to racists” by snubbing him for the upcoming finals on home soil.

Le Graet previously lamented the timing of Benzema’s comments, but the FFF president does not want to portray the Madrid man as the bad guy in the matter and has backed him to return ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

“Benzema is suspended. I do not want to kick someone who’s already down. I do not like to punish people. I think missing Euro 2016 is already enough of a punishment for Benzema,” Le Graet told RMC.

“I have no interest in creating an anti-Benzema atmosphere. I have always held him in high esteem. He must be upset to have missed out on Euro 2016. But I hope he will one day return to the national team. I don’t believe in punishing people for life.

“I have already said before that I think his interview was not very clever and that he owes a lot to Deschamps. France are not to blame on this one.

“We all know there is racism in France, we cannot deny that. There are people out there who are intolerant. But Karim is not in the squad for Euro 2016 because of his ongoing case. Karim has been the most selected player under Deschamps.

“But I would shake Karim’s hand right away. There are sanctions, but it is useless to punish someone twice. He has already had his punishment. The case is ongoing and we will see what happens. He is suspended now, but the coach can do as he pleases after this.”

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