Eric Cantona raised eyebrows last week when he suggested that France head coach Didier Deschamps left Karim Benzema and Hatem Ben Arfa out of his Euro 2016 squad due to their ethnicity.
Deschamps declined to comment to the Guardian, who broke the story following an interview with Cantona, but the French boss instructed his lawyer to take legal action against the former Manchester United star.
However, it seems Benzema agrees with Cantona’s sentiments. The Real Madrid striker has now accused Deschamps of bowing to racist pressure in an explosive interview with Spanish newspaper Marca.
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"I do not know, therefore, whether it is a decision only for Didier because I've gotten along with him, with the president, everyone."
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Benzema: In sporting terms, I don't understand why
Benzema was told before the tournament that he would not be involved at this summer’s European Championships following his alleged involvement in a blackmail attempt against his France teammate Mathieu Valbuena.
The 28-year-old, however, argues that he has not yet been found guilty. He also feels that after scoring 28 goals in 36 appearances for Los Blancos this season - winning the Champions League in the process - there was no obvious sporting reason for his omission.
"In sporting terms, I do not understand why," Benzema added. "At the judicial level, I have not been judged. I am not guilty, so we have to wait to see what the justice says.
"I like football and to play with my team."
FFF confirmed Benzema decision in April
Explaining their decision to omit Benzema, the French Football Federation (FFF) confirmed in April: “Didier Deschamps and [president] Noël Le Graët met to discuss the situation of Mr Benzema.
“The president of the federation and the coach would agree that athletic performance is an important but not exclusive criterion for selecting the France national team.
“The ability of players to work towards unity, in and around the group, are also taken into account. As a result, Noël Le Graët and Didier Deschamps decided that Karim Benzema will not participate in Euro 2016.”
Responding to the FFF’s decision, Benzema tweeted: “Unfortunately for me and for all those who have always supported me. I am not selected for our Euro in France ...”
Cantona on Benzema and Ben Arfa snub
As for Cantona, he told reporters last week: “Benzema is a great player. Ben Arfa is a great player. But Deschamps, he has a really French name. Maybe he is the only one in France to have a truly French name. Nobody in his family mixed with anybody, you know. Like the Mormons in America.
“So I’m not surprised he used the situation of Benzema not to take him. Especially after Valls said he should not play for France. And Ben Arfa is maybe the best player in France today. But they have some origins. I am allowed to think about that.”
“One thing is for sure – Benzema and Ben Arfa are two of the best players in France and will not play the European Championship. And for sure, Benzema and Ben Arfa, their origins are north African. So, the debate is open.”
Is Karim Benzema right to feel aggrieved about his Euro 2016 snub? Have your say by leaving a comment below.
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