Karim Benzema reportedly turned down the offer for participating in the retirement ceremony, organised by the French Football Federation. The ceremony was slated to be organised ahead of France’s UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifier game against the Netherlands at Stade de France on Saturday, March 25.
Benzema denied the invitation through email, in which he said that he would not be available, reported by L’Equipe. Following a dispute with manager Didier Deschamps during the Qatar World Cup, Benzema bid adieu to his international career right after the tournament. His bitter relationship with the French boss, hence, could be a reason behind the Balon d’Or winner’s absence at the felicitation event.
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Karim Benzema has faced several ups and downs during his career with the French national team. He was a regular figure in the starting lineup in the Euro 2008, Euro 2012 and the World Cup 2014 before being sidelined for a prolonged period due to a blackmailing scandal with his teammate Mathieu Valbuena. He also missed the 2018 World Cup, which saw France lifting the title.
Benzema made a roaring comeback in the 2020 European Championship, in which he was France’s top scorer with four goals. His team, however, was knocked out by Switzerland in the Round of 16. Benzema also played a key role in France’s championship run in the 2021 Nations League. The 35-year-old forward enjoyed the form of his life in 2022, helping his club win La Liga as well as the Champions League. Following his red-hot form, Benzema went on to bag the Ballon d’Or title the same year.
Benzema was predicted to be one of the key players for France in the 2022 World Cup. But he was ruled out of the entire campaign after suffering from a thigh injury during a training session. Although, reports claimed that the Madrid star did not leave Qatar voluntarily as his injury needed some minor treatments. Instead, Didier Deschamps did send him off. The French boss reportedly told the veteran striker, “What a pity Karim. You have to leave.”
French president Emanuel Macron later invited Benzema to attend the final match between France and Argentina. But the footballer refused the offer and did not travel to Qatar. France failed to defend the title with Lionel Messi’s side winning via a penalty shootout. A day after the game, Benzema announced his retirement along with some other senior teammates including goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and defender Raphael Varane.
Coming to France’s opening fixture of the 2024 Euro qualifying campaign, the hosts outclassed the Netherlands 4-0. Their star forward Kylian Mbappe scored a brace while the other two were netted by Antoine Griezmann and Dayot Upamecano.
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