Karim Benzema says he is victim of racism

Source: http://fr.reuters.com/article/idFRKCN0YN3J7

 

June 2, 2016

 

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema said he was denied the chance to play for France in the Euro 2016 this month because of his Algerian origins.

 

The French Football Federation denied the accusation, but Benzema’s comments, published just nine days before France hosts the tournament, have deepened a row about alleged racism in a national team once seen as a model for ethnic integration.

 

Last week, Eric Cantona accused coach Didier Deschamps of omitting Benzema and another French-born football player of North African descent, Hatem Ben Arfa, because of their foreign roots.

 

Deschamps’ lawyer said he planned to sue Cantona for slander. The two have a longstanding rivalry since the mid-1990s when Deschamps replaced Cantona as France’s captain and led the team to World Cup and Euro successes in 1998 and 2000. Benzema is under investigation over an alleged plot to blackmail a teammate, something Prime Minister Manuel Valls said made him unfit to play for the national team. Benzema said his legal problems were being used as an excuse to drop him from the squad.

 

“They said I couldn’t be picked, but on a sporting level I don’t understand and, on a legal level, I’ve not been convicted and I’m presumed innocent,” he told Spanish sports magazine Marca.

“Deschamps succumbed to pressure from a racist part of France,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s only Didier’s decision, because I get on well with him, the president (of the French Football Federation, Noel Le Graet) and everybody.”

 

Deschamps was not immediately available for comment. Le Graet said Deschamps was neither for nor against Benzema and had previously picked the forward even when he was not in good form.

 

“I think he has got carried away a little bit,” Le Graet told reporters at the French team’s training camp in Austria.

 

“I would have liked him to have been a bit more kind. These are words that don’t correspond with the realities.”

 

The racism row has added to tensions in a country hit by widespread strikes over proposed changes to work contracts and fears about terrorist attacks.

Ahead of the European Championship’s June 10 kick-off, the French team has also been hit by a spate of injuries.

 

The squad has players from various ethnicities. Deschamps last week called up Adil Rami, who is of Moroccan origin. But memories of 1998, when France’s “black-blanc-beur” (black-white-Arab) team won the World Cup, have faded, especially since the disastrous 2010 World Cup campaign in South Africa when the players fell out with the team’s managers.

 

At the time, the far-right National Front party complained that the team did not fully reflect France, where the vast majority are still white.

 

Sports Minister Thierry Braillard dismissed Benzema’s comments as “unjustified” and “unacceptable.”

 

“The French team is selected only on technical criteria and ability. There is not an inch of racism in this federation. The time has come to stand by our team,” Braillard told BFM TV.

 

A successful striker for Real Madrid, Benzema has often failed to excel for the national team, scoring 27 goals in 81 games at international level

Real Madrid opens sport schools to the children of Gaza

31 January 2013

 

The agreement between Real Madrid Foundation and the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) to open sport schools in Gaza offers “the children some sense of normalcy after the last military offensive on Gaza,” according to this organism.

The project, oriented to 500 children from seven schools in Gaza, “seeks to promote teamwork, gender equality and leadership. Through football, not only they learn the basic skills of the sport but also improve their ability to cope with everyday life, “UNRWA said in a statement.

This past November, when the project was launched “many children in the Gaza Strip were excited and this news made ​​them feel their idols Cristiano Ronaldo, Iker Casillas, Marcelo, Kaka, Benzema and Sergio Ramos a bit closer. ”
In total, and in the future it is expected that 10,000 Palestinian refugee children will participate in the Real Madrid sport schools in Gaza and  in the West Bank.

French Muslim Soccer Players Are Not Fasting

Le Figaro reports that French Muslim professional soccer players Mahamadou Diarra, Karim Benzema and Lassana Diarra are not fasting during this year’s Ramadan period to remain eligible to play for their team, Real Madrid.

Real Madrid Footballers Fast for Ramadan

Three stars from the Real Madrid football club have begun fasting for the month of Ramadan, according to AS. Lassana Diarra, Mahamadou Diarra and Karim Benzema will follow a special program of daytime fasting designed by club doctors to help the players during their intense summer training. Sport reports that Barcelona trio Erical Abidal, Keita and Yaya Toure, all Muslims, will delay their Ramadan fasting to honour their professional commitments with the club.