Benzema edges closer to France return


Karim Benzema moved a step closer to playing for France at Euro 2016 after a Versailles court lifted restrictions on him making contact with international team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.

Charges of complicity in an attempt to blackmail and participating in a criminal conspiracy remain against Benzema - who denies any wrongdoing - as part of an investigation into a sex-tape plot involving the Lyon midfielder.

But the judicial control placed on the Real Madrid striker, which meant he could not speak to Valbuena, was lifted on appeal on Friday.

The 28-year-old's lawyer, Sylvain Cormier, said: "Karim is very happy. Common sense has won, it's an important step. The most important thing for us is to show that Karim is innocent."

He was banned indefinitely by the French Football Federation in December while the case continued, but that stance could now change as the pair can be selected in the same squad by coach Didier Deschamps.

Benzema is unlikely to play in the upcoming friendlies with Netherlands and Russia, however, as he has a hamstring injury.

Tournament hosts France open Euro 2016 with a Group A clash against Romania at the Stade de France on June 10.