Ribery remains calm

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BERLIN, July 23 – French footballer Franck Ribery said Friday he is not worried about his career despite being charged this week with having sex with an under-age prostitute, because he did not knowingly do anything wrong."I am not scared about my future or about my career, either in the (French) national side or at Bayern Munich," Ribery told the German daily Bild in an interview.

"I never knowingly did anything wrong," Ribery said.

The 27-year-old, who was questioned for seven hours in Paris on Tuesday and faces up to three years in prison if convicted, has admitted paying for sex with Zahia Dehar but denies knowing the call girl was under 18 at the time.

German prosecutors said on Thursday that they had also opened a preliminary probe, but a spokeswoman stressed that he could not be prosecuted for the same crime twice.

Dehar has said that Ribery had her flown over from Paris and that they had sex in a luxury Munich hotel on the player’s 26th birthday in April 2009. He has admitted paying for her flight and hotel room.

In both France and Germany, paying for sex with a prostitute under 18 is illegal. In Germany the maximum penalty is five years behind bars.

"I have to get through this low point. It’s not easy, but I have to get through it. I am a player very much in the public eye … It’s not always easy to live with this pressure. The pressure is huge," Ribery told Bild.

"I hope that all this talk about my private life … will end soon, because the most important thing for me is football. I want to have fun again and just focus on that."

He added: "It’s true that I have had a tough year, particularly because of injuries. But I am working extremely hard to come back, to find my top form again.

"I am planning a very, very big season."

The married attacking midfielder failed to score in France’s ill-fated campaign in the World Cup in South Africa, won by Spain earlier this month. France, world champions in 1998, were eliminated in the group stage.

He is a highly valued member of Bundesliga champions Bayern, although last season he was plagued with injury and was suspended for their Champions League final defeat to Inter Milan after a red card in the semi-final first leg.

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