• Yet his talent for becoming embroiled in off the field controversies has only fuelled the opinion of many in France that he is more trouble than he is worth.
French football star Karim Benzema provokes passionate opinions, being adored or disliked in equal measure and his one-year suspended sentence on Wednesday will only serve to strengthen those views.
The 33-year-old’s talent on the pitch is indisputable, he has a swathe of league titles with both Lyon and Real Madrid as well as four Champions League trophies.
Yet his talent for becoming embroiled in off the field controversies has only fuelled the opinion of many in France that he is more trouble than he is worth.
That was certainly the view of France coach Didier Deschamps who until a surprise call-up for this year’s Euro 2020 finals kept him out in the cold for five-and-a-half years due to the sex-tape allegations.
The recall was even more surprising given Deschamps had been at the end of unfounded allegations made by Benzema when he was omitted from the Euro 2016 finals squad hosted by France.
Deschamps had “yielded to pressure from a racist party in France,” railed Benzema, who is appealing Wednesday’s sentence over his complicity in the bid to blackmail former France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.
The consequences of his words impacted on Deschamps, whose house in Brittany was daubed with paint with the inscription ‘racist’.
“It’s a stain,” Deschamps told radio station RTL in January. “Even if with time it calms down a bit, I can’t forget.