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Benzema return would benefit France – Zidane

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane. — file photo

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane. — file photo

MADRID, February 20 – Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane described the partial lifting legal restrictions on Real striker Karim Benzema as “a good thing” for the French team as hopes have been raised Benzema could now feature in the European Championships later this year.

Restrictions prevented Benzema from seeing international teammate Mathieu Valbuena due to his alleged involvement in blackmailing Valbuena in a sextape case were lifted by a French judge on Thursday.

However, prosecutors have appealed the decision with the case to be heard before a court in Versailles, outside Paris on March 4.

“Above all it is a good thing for the French team. That is what I have always said and I repeat it,” Zidane said on Saturday.

“I hope that this matter is fixed quickly and that is what is happening. I am happy above all for the French national team.”

The French Football Federation (FFF) suspended Benzema from the national team after he was placed under formal investigation in November for alleged complicity in a blackmail attempt targeting Valbuena.

If the judge’s decision to lift the restrictions is upheld, it could pave the way for Benzema to return to the national team in time for Euro 2016, which France is hosting.

Benzema has denied any wrongdoing but could face a five-year jail term if found guilty.

Zidane is a legend in France having won the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 with Les Bleus.

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However, his and Madrid’s continued support of Benzema has been in stark contrast to the treatment received by the 28-year-old in his homeland.

Benzema has continued to play for Madrid and is enjoying his best ever goalscoring season having struck 23 times in 24 games.

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