One of the world’s leading football players is accused of blackmailing a fellow French international footballer.
French police are looking into whether Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema played a part in an alleged attempt to extort money from Marseille player Mathieu Valbuena.
The allegations center around a purported sex tape, a source close to the investigation told AFP.
Benzema is under investigation for “complicity in blackmailing and participating in criminal association with intent to organize a crime,” according to a statement from the Versailles prosecutor’s office.
The statement used the French term “mise en examen” — a legal status that allows prosecutors to investigate someone accused of criminal activity for up to two years.
Benzema’s attorney Sylvain Cormier says the Real forward has “taken no part in this blackmail attempt,” and that the case has gone public “in a fallacious manner.”
“His heart goes to his friend Mathieu Valbuena,” Cormier said in a statement broadcast on BMTV.
Benzema, 27, appeared before a Versailles judge Thursday morning after being held overnight.
Prosecutors say the forward has received a probation order and is not allowed to contact Valbuena.
Both players were left out of the France squad for the forthcoming friendly international matches Germany and England.
He could also potentially miss the European Championship finals which will be held in France next June. He has represented his country on 81 occasions and was a key part of the squad for last year’s World Cup in Brazil.
Real and Valbuena did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.