Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema has dropped the appeal against his one-year prison term for his role in the attempted blackmail of a former teammate Mathieu Valbuena, his lawyer told French sports daily L’Equipe on Saturday.
Benzema, 34, was also fined 75,000 euros ($84,170) and ordered to pay Valbuena 80,000 euros to cover legal costs and 150,000 euros in damages together with his three other co-accused.
The initial scandal put Benzema’s international career on hold for more than five years, though he has since returned to playing for France, and the conviction has not kept him off the field.
He claimed the Champions League trophy with Real Madrid last week and scored France’s only goal in a 2-1 Nations League loss to Denmark on Friday.
Benzema’s lawyer Hugues Vigier has told L’Equipe that the Madrid star has dropped the appeal because he has grown “exhausted” by the process.
He added: “This withdrawal endorses a ruling of condemnation and apparently of guilt. It is a judicial truth. But it is not reality.
“Karim Benzema will always claim his innocence in this case and he never wanted to participate in a blackmail operation against Mathieu Valbuena.”
Benzema, who has been in fine form this season, was part of Real Madrid’s Champions League winning team last month, ending as the competition’s top scorer. He scored his 37th goal in 95 appearances for France on Friday during Les Bleus 2-1 loss to Denmark.
He is favorite to win this season’s Ballon d’Or award for the best player in the world.