Benzema lashes out after French federation confirms permanent exile

Karim Benzema expressed his frustration with the French Football Federation (FFF) on Saturday after governing body chief Noel Le Graet confirmed that the Real Madrid striker will never again play for the World Cup holders.

Benzema, 31, hasn’t featured for Les Bleus since 2015 as part of the fallout from his involvement in the Mathieu Valbuena sex-tape scandal.

Calls for in-form Benzema’s return to the national team were squarely suppressed by Le Graet on Saturday. “For me, Benzema is a very good player. I have never criticized his qualities,” he told RMC Sport. “On the contrary, he is proving again this year at Madrid that he is one of the best players in his position. But the adventure with France is over.”

Those words prompted a response from Benzema, who expressed his grievances on Twitter.

“Noel, I thought that you did not interfere with the decisions of the national team coach!” Benzema tweeted. “Know that it will be me and me alone who decides when my international career is over. If you think that I am finished, let me play for a country that I am eligible to play for and we will see.”

FIFA rules forbid a player from switching international allegiances once a competitive match is played. Benzema, who is also eligible to suit up for Algeria, has made 81 Les Bleus appearances, bagging 27 goals in the process.

France manager Didier Deschamps has previously denied any interest in recalling Benzema, citing a potential negative impact on team morale. Benzema has alleged that Deschamps’ refusal is racially motivated, an accusation that Deschamps denied.

With Euro 2020 qualification already cemented, France will face Albania on Sunday in Deschamps’ 100th match in charge.

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