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Can Benzema switch from France after latest snub?

Can Benzema switch international teams after latest France snub?

November 16, 2019 By Emmanuel K. Budu-Annor
The Real Madrid forward wants to play for another nation he is eligible to feature for.

There have been growing calls for Karim Benzema's inclusion in the France national team setup but the latest development indicates that the striker's adventure with Les Bleus may be truly over. With the striker having been exiled from the side since 2015, France Football Federation president Noel Le Graet has maintained that there are no plans to ever call him to represent the current world champions in any forthcoming fixtures.

Despite being in top form for Real Madrid in recent times, Benzema has failed to earn a single call-up to the national team in almost five years, missing out on the Euro 2016 campaign on home soil as well as France's 2018 World Cup win in Russia. The stance taken by the Blues led by headcoach Didier Deschamps is as a result of the 31-year-old's alleged involvement in a scandal to blackmail team-mate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape back in 2015.

During the period, the ex-Lyon star vehemently denied being part of the ploy against his former teammate and has since attributed his alienation to a host of factors including racism as well as President Le Graet being involved in the team selections. The latter, who has been at the helm of affairs at the federation since 2011, on Saturday, denounced the prospect of Benzema being handed another opportunity despite being in a better form than Olivier Giroud, Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann this season.

"Karim Benzema is a very good player, I have never doubted his qualities," he said.

"On the contrary, he shows Real Madrid that he is one of the best players around. But his adventure with the French National team is over."

Karim Benzema has since threatened to switch his international allegiance after not being overlooked once more for the France squad. The Real Madrid striker issued a response on his official Twitter page, iterating the president's influence over team decisions.

"Noel, I thought you weren't interfering with the coach's decisions!" he wrote.

"I want you to know that I and I alone would end my international career. If you think I'm finished, let me play for one of the countries that I'm eligible for and we'll see."

Back in 2018, Benzema was advised by his former agent Karim Djaziri, to appeal to FIFA and ask for special dispensation in order to complete a switch from France to Algeria, of which he is a descent. However, the success of the process is not guaranteed and similar cases in the past prove that it cannot be done at all.

Per the FIFA rules, a player can only switch from one nation to another if they have not featured in a competitive match for that country. Having amassed 81 caps in which he has scored 27 goals for France, Benzema certainly falls outside that category.

In January 2004, where the rule was first applied after the Algerian FA met with FIFA in the case of Anthar Yahia, it proved to be successful as he had only featured for the France youth team.

However, prior to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in France, Morocco failed in a bid to get Spain-born Munir El Haddadi to be pronounced eligible having earned his first cap for La Rojas against Macedonia in September 2014.

In essence, Benzema clearly feels he is being unfairly sidelined from the France national team and, as a result, may feel he has a special case for a call to switch teams to be received in good faith. As to whether his demands will be formalized and perused upon reception by FIFA remain to be seen.

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