The day after Daniel Riolo’s After Foot revelations behind the scenes of Karim Benzema’s World Cup package, the French squad’s entourage wanted to shed another light on RMC.
It was one of the last big goals of his career. After winning the Ballon d’Or, Karim Benzema aspired to win the World Cup in Qatar. A dream that flew away due to a thigh injury, even before the Azzurri entered the race. It was without him that they made it to the final, with that frustrating shoot-out defeat to Argentina on 18 December. The following day, Benzema announced his international retirement. The conclusion of a tumultuous story to the end with the selection.
A little more than a month later, cold and after collecting various elements, Daniel Riolo, columnist and journalist of RMC Sport, unveiled on Wednesday the behind-the-scenes package of Benzema during the World Cup, criticizing the management of Didier Deschamps and the egos of some executives. In response to these revelations, the entourage of the French team contacted After Foot to shed some light on this whole story. First of all with an update on what happened on 19 November, the day Benzema’s retirement was made official after an injury in training.
That evening, the Real striker went to the Aspetar clinic in Doha accompanied by France doctor Franck Le Gall and two members of the Blues’ security service. The decision is then made not to keep it. The French team explains that Benzema then decides to leave Qatar as soon as possible to return to Madrid and that his personal assistant, present in Doha, has difficulty finding him a private plane. Problem: This turns out to be impossible because private flights are forbidden to fly over Iraq and/or Ukraine at night.
Benzema is directed to the first scheduled flight the next morning. His personal assistant and the Blues staff organize part of the night for his departure, with a first safe arrival at Doha airport and another arrival in Madrid where he should be watched by security personnel.
“We wouldn’t have woken up all the players to do Benzema’s honor guard”
The point of view of the French team is therefore to say that the Federation has not left Benzema to fend for himself and that the plane ticket has been paid for him. He adds that he could have stayed longer at the Blues’ base camp to say goodbye to his teammates, but that it was his choice for him to join Madrid so quickly. Before leaving, he allegedly went to Mohamed Sanhadji, director of security of the Blues, to ask him to say hello to the other players to assure him of his full support.
“We weren’t going to wake up all the players at 5am to do Benzema’s honor guard,” said a close friend of the Blues. He adds that in his haste Benzema forgot his eight pairs of crampons in Qatar… and that his assistant had to ask the FFF to send them back to him by post, which was done. Daniel Riolo explained it to After on Wednesday: “When they leave Benzema and the French team doctor says: ‘all right, you’re injured, you’re leaving’ and that we take a plane for him at 6. It’s strange the way we tell a boy who is called back to France: ‘you leave at night’. He is gone, hence his silence in the following weeks”.
But what happened before the announcement of the Benzema package? The entourage of the French team assures that it is the former Lyonnais who decides to speed up his races the day he is injured. At the moment he has not played since he entered the field in the Champions League on November 2nd due to physical problems and the first match of the World Cup against Australia (November 22nd) is approaching. France explain that since the beginning of Benzema’s injury there have been communication problems. Real would not have handed over any medical documents to the Blues.
And the diagnosis of “muscle fatigue” would not have been detailed by either the club or the player. It is explained that vice versa, in the case of Raphaël Varane who was also injured before the World Cup, Manchester United fully cooperated by providing all the necessary medical documents. And the defender has agreed to have a member of the Blues’ medical team accompany him to Manchester and then to Lille as part of his recovery programme. For France there is no doubt that the diagnosis made by the Azzurri’s doctor on Benzema was the right one.
For the management of the Azzurri there was a wolf regarding Benzema’s physical defects
We also reiterate with RMC that Deschamps has no doubts when he announces his World Cup squad on November 9th. He plans to have Benzema as owner. The French squad’s entourage, however, believe he could “easily” justify missing the call-up due to the vagueness surrounding his injury. A vagueness that then extended to Qatar. Again, the recovery protocol is said to be very clear for Varane when the Blues arrive in Qatar on November 16, but not so for Benzema.
In their version of events brought to RMC, the entourage of the French team goes further and claims that the Ballon d’Or initially refuses to train and wants to “manage itself”. Selection management is questioned but this is a starter, one of the best players in the world. However, precautions have been taken. Marcus Thuram had been called three days earlier. It is no coincidence that given Benzema’s situation, this choice is a guarantee in case of concern for the number 19. The Blues management clearly thinks that there is a wolf concerning the Madrid player.
One episode is particularly highlighted: on November 12 Benzema is in his land to present his Ballon d’Or in Lyon. The entourage of the French team say they called him to offer to send a member of the medical team for treatment. Even according to this version from France, Benzema never replied. Unlike Presnel Kimpembe, then closely followed by the medical staff of the Blues.
With RMC, the entourage of the Blues also sheds light on what happened once Benzema returned to Madrid. He would have agreed that he continues to heal. He left for a few days on holiday in Reunion before returning to Madrid to resume training with his club on 10 December. Five days later, he played again in a friendly match with his club. Which makes the French team say that it is impossible to say that he could have played in the quarter-finals of the World Cup against England (December 10) even if he was part of the player list, and that this calendar confirms that the diagnosis was correct .
The response of the French team on managing egos
On Wednesday Daniel Riolo also pointed the finger at Deschamps and his difficulties in “managing the ego”. In response, from the French team, we recall that the coach gave an ultra positive speech about the Real player in Clairefontaine at the start of the Blues rally. And that before the president of the FFF, the minister of sport and about fifty people, he affirmed that “it is a great opportunity for France to have Karim Benzema”.
Daniel Riolo also said Benzema’s return to selection in June 2021 after a six-year absence had caused some tension with some team officials, such as Paul Pogba. The entourage of the French team argue that this alleged Pogba-Benzema rivalry makes no sense given that the Turin-born was not present at the World Cup. As far as managing egos is concerned, France brings Deschamps’ defense there too, emphasizing that he knows how to manage strong personalities, and that the progress of the tournament in Qatar confirmed this. With him the Blues played in the second consecutive World Cup final.
The FFF and the Elysée had also invited Benzema to attend the final against Argentina. The entourage of the Blues recalls having rejected the two proposals and more generally regrets that Benzema has been presented as “the victim” from the beginning of the controversy, unlike Deschamps, who would have suffered the events every time.