Karim Benzema turned down France tribute in email response

Ahead of tonight’s Euro 2024 qualifying campaign opener against The Netherlands, a group of French national team icons who recently retired will be honoured in a ceremony at the Stade de France.

These include long-time captain and record appearance-maker Hugo Lloris, former vice-captain Raphaël Varane, and another two 2018 World Cup winners in Steve Mandanda and Blaise Matuidi.

One notable absentee is Karim Benzema – who, despite not being a part of the World Cup-winning team five years ago, remains the fifth all-time top scorer on 37 goals, and with nearly a century of caps and a Nations League win to his name. According to L’Équipe, though, the Real Madrid man declined the invitation by email, explaining that he was not available. The decision comes in the wake of his feud with Didier Deschamps resurfacing over their contrasting accounts of Benzema’s departure from the World Cup squad due to injury, on the eve of the opening match.

Also set for tributes tonight are the late Just Fontaine – the top goalscorer in a single World Cup edition with 13, and former national team manager – and former FFF president Claude Simonet, who was in charge of French football from 1994 to 2005.

GFFN | Raphaël Jucobin 

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