The Blancos striker has been locked in international limbo with France and seems eager to play for another team, but is it possible?
However, his success at club level – which includes four Champions Leagues, three La Liga titles and four Club World Cups – has not been reflected internationally with France.
The Madrid leader missed Euro 2016, in which France – the hosts – were beaten as finalists, and he was forced to watch longingly as Les Bleus won their second world title at the 2018 World Cup.
With no end in sight to his exclusion from France, it has even been suggested that he could potentially play for another national team, but is it possible? Goal take a look at the story.
- Why is Karim Benzema not playing for France?
- Which international teams can Karim Benzema play for?
- Can Karim Benzema change international team?
Why is Karim Benzema not playing for France?
Benzema’s exile from the France team began in 2015 following an acrimonious sex tape dispute with former Les Bleus team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.
The Madrid striker has not been a part of the national team since then, having been apparently suspended indefinitely by the president of the French Football Federation (FFF), Noel Le Graet.
Despite repeated claims from French icons such as Zinedine Zidane in 2019 that Benzema deserved a call-back to the international squad, Le Graet insisted that “the adventure with France is over” for the striker.
This statement by the head of the FFF sparked a furious reaction from Benzema, who then challenged the federation to allow him to play for another country.
“Noel, I thought you hadn’t interfered with the decisions of the national team coach! », Wrote the attacker on Twitter in 2019.
“Know that it will be me and me alone who will decide the end of my international career.
“If you think I’m done, let me play for a country I’m eligible for and we’ll see. “
Christmas I believed that you do not interfere in the decisions of the coach! Know that it is me and me alone who would put an end to my international career.
If you think I’m done, let me play for one of the countries I’m eligible for and we’ll see.
– Karim Benzema (@Benzema) November 16, 2019
Later in 2021, in preparation for Euro 2020, Zidane reiterated his perplexity over Benzema’s continued exclusion from the French panel, but admitted that it suited him as club boss.
“How can we understand why Karim is not leaving with the national team? There are many who don’t understand it, ”Zidane told reporters ahead of the opening of France’s 2022 World Cup qualifier against Ukraine.
“But it’s better for me as a Madrid coach that he stays. He did a great job for us. ”
Others echoed Zidane’s sentiments, with the seven-time Ligue 1 winner and former France international Jean-Michel Larque suggesting the exclusion should be lifted.
“I don’t blame Deschamps for what happened in the past, but I just ask him to forgive Benzema,” Larque said. RMC Sport.
“I believe that after everything he (Benzema) has been subjected to, offering the player a forgiveness would make Deschamps a bigger man. ”
Eric Cantona is another former star of France who has expressed a desire to see Benzema in blue again, saying as early as 2017: “I want to see Karim Benzema in the France team and, in my opinion, I am not the only one. ”
Which international teams can Karim Benzema play for?
Benzema can currently only play for France, strictly speaking. The reason is that he played competitively at the senior level for Les Bleus which means he is effectively tied.
A general principle of FIFA’s eligibility rules for national teams is that, once a player has been capped in competition at the senior level, they cannot move on to a team for which they may also have been eligible. to play.
Changes to the eligibility rules at the end of 2020, which expanded the possibilities for change in specific circumstances, have no bearing on Benzema’s potential eligibility for another team.
In addition to France, Lyon-born Benzema was previously eligible to play for Algeria thanks to his family ties with the country of North Africa.
In 2006, before his senior debut for France, he was approached by representatives of the Algerian Football Federation (FAF) who sought to persuade him to play for them.
However, he declined the invitation, saying RMC: “Algeria is the country of my parents and it is in my heart, but I will play for the France team. ”
Interestingly, following Benzema’s comments in November 2019, Algeria manager Djamel Belmadi replied: “I’m very happy with the players I have. ”
If Benzema had not played competing for France or any other national team, he might well have become eligible to represent Spain due to his long-term residence in the country while playing for Real Madrid.
The striker has lived in Spain for more than a decade and could apply for Spanish citizenship, which is the first step in being eligible to represent La Roja.
Unfortunately for Benzema, a change of international squad is not likely any time soon, unless FIFA makes an exceptional decision in his favor.
The fact that he played competitively at the senior level for France means that he is not free to change allegiance to another team under the universally applied eligibility rules of world football.
FIFA’s position on not allowing competing players to change allegiance to an international team was confirmed in 2018 when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled against Munir El Haddadi.
The former Barcelona striker only played once for Spain – in a competitive game in 2014 – and wanted to change his allegiance to Morocco. However, his case was rejected by FIFA and then by CAS.
FIFA updated the eligibility rules in 2020 and while the organization is now allowing changes after appearances in competition in some cases, it appears Benzema does not qualify.
Benzema has played 81 times for France (about half of those competitive games), scoring 27 goals – a strike total that places him among the top 10 all-time scorers in national team history.
However, he has not played for Les Bleus since the friendly 4-0 victory over Armenia in October 2015, a game in which he has scored twice.
Under current eligibility rules, the only way for Benzema to change allegiance to the national team is if he suddenly loses his French nationality without his consent or against his will.
Otherwise, this would require a change of regulations or an extraordinary allowance made just for him by FIFA.