Soccer-Deschamps puts France interests first in Benzema Euro call-up

·2-min read
French coach Deschamps holds a news conference after announcing the France's squad list for the UEFA Euro 2020 football tournament, in Boulogne Billancourt

(Reuters) - France coach Didier Deschamps said he put the interests of the national team above everything else when he decided to call up Karim Benzema to the squad for the European Championship.

Benzema, 33, will return for Les Bleus more than five years after the last of his 81 caps following a blackmailing scandal over which he faces a trial in October.

He also said in 2016 that Deschamps had "bowed to the pressure of a racist part of France" when leaving the forward out of the Euro squad that year.

"Everybody can make mistakes. It's true that I have had to deal with complicated situations with some players over the years but I have always put the France jersey above everything," Deschamps told a news conference on Tuesday.

The coach added that he had made his decision "a while ago" and that he had talked to Benzema.

"We have seen each other. We had a long discussion. After that I had a long reflection to come to this decision. I'm not going to reveal a word of the discussion, it's only our business. I needed it, he needed it," he explained.

Benzema, who has turned into a better finisher since Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid for Juventus in 2018, has scored 29 goals in all competitions this season.

He looks set to start as number nine for France, with Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann on the flanks, which would leave Olivier Giroud, Kingsley Coman and Ousmane Dembele on the bench.

"I'm not going to complain that I have a lot of choices," said Deschamps. "I have a lot of attacking players because I think that it's where we can make a difference. We'll have to find the right balance."

France are in Group F with Hungary, Portugal and Germany, who they will face in Munich on June 16 in their opening game.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting