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 By Mark Rodden

Karim Benzema's France future to be settled before April 15 - FFF

French Football Federation (FFF) president Noel Le Graet says a decision on Karim Benzema's future with France will be made by April 15.

Benzema, 28, was suspended indefinitely from the national team after being charged with conspiracy to blackmail as part of an alleged attempt to extort funds from his international teammate Mathieu Valbuena.

Earlier this month the investigating judge lifted a legal restriction that had prevented the Real Madrid striker from having any contact with Lyon winger Valbuena.

That led to speculation that Benzema would return to the France squad in time for Euro 2016 and on the same day the judge also granted the FFF access to all the files relating to the case.

As a result, Le Graet has now confirmed that French football's governing body will make a "definitive" decision about the player after France's friendlies with Netherlands and Russia later this month.

"The federation is a civil party [in the case]," he said at a news conference on Tuesday. "We received the files last week. We're going to play the two matches with a lot of passion and then we'll discuss it with our legal advisors.

"We'll take a decision, in my opinion, before April 15 concerning Karim. Is he available for selection or not? We'll have a response by mid-April."

Benzema, who has recently returned from injury at Real Madrid, is accused of accepting a request from a childhood friend to act as an intermediary between the blackmailers and Valbuena. He has denied wrongdoing.

French prime minister Manuel Valls and sports minister Patrick Kanner suggested this month that Benzema should not be recalled by France, while Patrice Evra admitted this week that the controversy had harmed Les Bleus.


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