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'International' cited in under-age prostitute probe

An international footballer is under suspicion of soliciting an alleged under-age prostitute, prosecutors in the country have confirmed.

The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that Paris police arrested a 16-year-old girl for shoplifting last week, and after consulting their database, discovered the teenager had already been linked with prostitution, which is legal in France for those practicing over the age of 18.

"An inquiry is under way," prosecutors' office spokeswoman Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre told AP. "A minor was arrested a few weeks ago, for shoplifting, and her mobile phone was examined.

"It's after the examination of this telephone that an inquiry was opened for prostitution of a minor, but I won't confirm the name of those who could be cited, notably football players."

Thibault-Lecuivre did, however, confirm that the footballer concerned "is an international player," without giving any further details.

"Checks have to be made first of all. For the moment it is (a case of) suspicion," she added.

The preliminary investigation has been opened by the same police unit which, three years ago, dealt with the case of Zahia Dehar. In connection with that case, nine people, including Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema, will appear before a French court next June on charges of soliciting an under-age prostitute.