PARIS, July 28 – New France coach Laurent Blanc says he is ready to call up Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema, despite an ongoing investigation into reports they had sex with an under-age prostitute.The allegations led to France’s Minister for Health and Sport Roselyne Bachelot deeming they should not be selected for the national side pending the outcome of the case.
Bayern Munich winger Ribery, who could face three years in prison if convicted, has admitted having sex with Zahia Dehar but denies knowing the call girl was under 18 at the time.
Real Madrid striker Benzema faces the same charge, which he also denies.
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.
But Blanc told Le Parisien-Aujourd’hui en France in an interview to appear on Wednesday that he might not necessarily exclude the pair — even though he has dropped the entire World Cup squad for the August 11 friendly with Norway.
Asked if the players were currently "non-selectable," Blanc said: "No. Judicial enquiries are very long."
The former Bordeaux coach added: "Ribery and Benzema are among the players who are potentially indispensable in the national side."
The new interim president of the French Football Federation, Fernand Duchaussoy, initially suggested on his appointment earlier this month that the players would be left out as long as a legal shadow hung over them.
However, he has since indicated that he feels an obligation "to respect Laurent Blanc’s wishes" and has warned against rushing to conclusions before the case has concluded.