Citizen KB. Now under serious investigation.
‘At the beginning he believed (…) that it was a joke…’ – KB
The photos were published all around the world: Real Madrid’s leading player surrounded by the policemen, who were taking him into the custody. This was the first, but certainly not the final, focal point of one of the most bizarre, football-related crime stories in history. Two ‘friends’, knowing each other from dozens of their national team’s games – and a sex-tape related blackmail case between them. Plus, a third-party involvement from someone, who was supposed to be Karim Benzema’s childhood friend (did the footballer just admit to sustaining friendship with a criminal?) So far, we’ve already heard about two different versions of a story from the main suspect and one testimony – albeit not legally-binding – from him: he confessed that he’s an idiot. True: but we still don’t know whether his hassle with Mathieu Valbuena was just a farce or something much more serious.
‘…it is not a question of buzz, but a question of pride…’ – KB
Events keep unfolding rapidly. The two leading characters of this drama were left out of France’s squad for this months’ international duty. Florentino Pérez has immediately backed up his striker, calling him “completely innocent”; at the same time, Spanish newspaper AS claimed that Benzema’s contract will be terminated, should he ever be found guilty of criminal charges. While this was going on, Valbuena has been scheduled to testify in court on Friday – the same day OL face Nice in Ligue 1. This will be quite a ride for the winger: 465 km from Lyon to the capital, an hour or two in front of the judge, then, a 931 km flight to Nice for a football game – a game against quite tough opponents (they’ve scored 27 goals in 13 games this season). And that’s just one of the many complications both parties are facing while being involved with this trial.
‘…but brother you are putting an end to his career brother…’ – KB
Sporting-wise, it’s been a sort of disaster for both Frenchmen. Following his transfer from Dynamo Kyiv, Valbuena’s been struggling to adapt into the Olympique Lyonnais’ side. With 1 goal and 2 assists in 11 league matches, the 31-years old certainly wasn’t his new team’s saviour – and that’s been combined with less-than-ideal performances in the Champions League. As of Benzema, his presence was recently instrumental to Real Madrid’s success. Without the guy, Los Blancos were toothless against Sevilla and had two, very lucky escapes when confronted with Paris Saint-Germain in UCL. The one to suffer the most has been Cristiano Ronaldo, who used to benefit greatly from his French teammate’s unselfishness and work rate. It’s been a long time since CR7 was as lonely upfront as he was at Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán eleven days ago.
— Ahmed Ashraf (@aashrafbdo) October 30, 2015
Now, regarding the whole case, several questions come to mind:
– Does Mathieu Valbuena’s sex tape even exist? We can’t be 100% sure – but the behaviour of Olympique Lyonnais’ winger, the negotiations he entered – would suggest it does.
‘I think that he does not take us seriously.’ – KB
– Why would Mathieu Valbuena record a sex tape in the first place? After all, he has to be aware that, in a mass-media era, this kind of records are like ticking bombs for pretty much all wealthy, widely recognized, people. And even if some third-party criminals weren’t involved – there’s always a possibility of a break-up and a subsequent revenge plot from his woman.
– How did Karim Zenati acquire the tape? Through hacking the victim’s computer? Old-fashioned stealing it from Valbuena’s house? Did Zenati have an accomplice amongst the victim’s friends, who had the access to the guy’s house? So far – not even a smidgeon of information about that; though it is a key question in this case.
‘He said to me: What do they want? I said to him: me I do not know…’ – KB
– Is Karim Benzema merely an uninvolved messenger of the bad news? That’s the line of defence he and his lawyer are picking at the moment. However, the leaked transcripts of phone conversations between him and Zenati, the way he addresses the blackmailing side as ‘us’ (‘He doesn’t treat us seriously’) – suggest Benzema’s direct and serious involvement.
Benzema admits he “looks stupid” after previously claiming to have nothing to do with Valbuena case https://t.co/jiLFwoELEk
— SPORT English (@Sport_EN) November 13, 2015
– Why would Benzema, a worldwide-famous footballer with an estimated net worth of about €37 million and yearly salary around €8 million (plus commercial bonuses worth of 3-4 million), take part in a risky, criminal plot that reportedly was about to bring him at most €150.000 worth of profits? This is the kind of money Real Madrid’s forward makes in a week. He’s also supposed to make further €32 million within the next four years in Madrid – so, what’s the point of jeopardizing one’s career for a loose change?
‘…there is no intermediary, no lawyer, no friend, no agent, no police…’ – KB
– Was Real Madrid’s striker unaware that, in case of such suspicious circumstances, he should’ve immediately contacted the police – before contacting Valbuena directly and, certainly, before the story was all over the media? Did he ever speak to his agent, Karim Djaziri, who would’ve been first to point out all the possible damages this case could deal to both Benzema’s funds and reputation, should it come out in public? At this point, when feces have already struck the cooling device – the answer, most likely, is no.
– Is there any personal grudge between Benzema and Valbuena that would justify the absurd involvement of Real Madrid’s main man in this ridiculous case? So far, nobody managed to find anything – in fact, the OL player’s Facebook account still proudly keeps a photo of himself and Benzema striking a friendly pose during the French National Team’s training. To cite a more substantial piece of evidence: lawyer Didier Domat, who represent Valbuena, has claimed that his client “feels no particular animosity” towards Benzema. So?
– What was the point of arresting Benzema on Wednesday, November 4th? Why he’s been detained at the police station in Versallies? Why the cops bothered to put him into custody in the middle of French National Team’s gathering? Did they really think he’d flee to Cayman Islands to avoid justice? Were they afraid that he’d muddle the investigation if he remained at large? Was it just a proverbial pigs’ stupidity or some cop wanted to at least steal some of the media spotlight for himself?
Apparently, ‘act now, think later’ is cop’s motto all around the world.
All these questions leave us with few hypothesis, of which three seem the most plausible:
‘…I saw him gulping, he started gulping twice, three times…’ – KB
1) Karim Benzema is Karim Zenati’s accomplice, fully informed and cooperative. He’s been acting with the intent of malice, either to get a revenge on Valbuena, or to get his own share of profit from blackmail, or to make a favour to his childhood friend, who was in need of money. This would explain the content of telephone conversations, which leaked to press so far. If such scenario turned out to be true, the man in question would most likely have his contract cancelled at Real Madrid, his wallet charged with a huge fine and a suspended – or maybe even regular – sentence put on his name.
‘…I am honestly shocked, I’m an idiot when I see all this…’ – KB
2) Karim Benzema is a complete and utter moron, who was being manipulated by Zenati all the way. His brain didn’t work fast enough to understand the magnitude of this affair, and once it did – it was too late. Benzema’s blatant stupidity would explain an implied lack of communication between him and his agent, as well as his willingness to risk his entire career to help a random, scumbag friend. If this is true, the player can expect a substantial fine and, perhaps, few hours of community service – but not more.
‘…It is good brother, you have done really well…’ – KZ
3) Karim Benzema is a victim himself. One way or the other, he’s been forced to cooperate by Zenati’s criminal conspiracy and dragged through the mud against his will. This would explain why a multimillionaire celebrity like him has ever touched a stinking case with just €150.000 on the cards. It would also explain why Valbuena doesn’t harbour any negative feelings towards him – they might both be well aware that they’re just pawns in a dirty game. If this was the case, the court would likely clear the guy of all charges: but will he bold enough to testify?
The news that might answer all these questions will keep surfacing. Recent rumour was that Shakira and Gerard Piqué are yet another couple who were blackmailed with a supposedly leaked sex-tape. Frankly, this sounds ridiculous – just like the revelations about Benzema’s involvement in a drug-trafficking case. One thing’s for sure, though: with a friend like this Karim Zenati lad, the ex-OL striker doesn’t need enemies…
All quotes in italics – except one – were taken from a full transcript of the phone conversations between Benzema (KB) and Zenati (KZ). The penultimate quote was taken from the interview he gave to Agence France‑Presse (AFP).