Can the judgment linked to the sextape compromise Karim Benzema’s chances of victory?

Except in the corridors of the judicial court of Versailles, we have never seen Karim Benzema as much as in recent weeks. On the pitch, the Real Madrid and Blues striker continues to distribute goals, assists and sweets of all kinds at a staggering rate. Outside the lawn, KB (1) 9 has been doing a series of interviews since the announcement of the nominees for the Ballon d’Or on October 8. Interview after interview, the captain of the White House explains that he no longer feels very far from fulfilling his “childhood dream”.

In his frantic campaign, he can also count on the media power of Real, as good for collecting C1 as for pushing behind an individual Grail candidate. After Cristiano Ronaldo and Modric, Benzema is the chosen one of Florentino Pérez, and not a day goes by without former glories of the Merengue, from Brazilian Ronaldo to Zizou via Cannavaro, praising his merits.

Outstanding performances over time + lobbying of prestigious influencers… The cocktail seems to contain all the ingredients to seduce the 180 journalists from 180 different countries invited to deliver their world Top 5 by Sunday evening, a month before the ceremony official. Outside of sport, we have seen ballots won by less deserving candidates, even if the rivals were not always as threatening as the lethal weapon Lewandowski or the stainless Messi.

The ballot closed Sunday at midnight, the winner known on November 29

But there remains a big rut on the royal road to the hoped-for coronation on November 29 at the Parisian theater of Châtelet: the tortuous affair known as “the sextape of Matthieu Valbuena”, whose judgment is expected this Friday in Versailles. The day before, 10 months suspended prison sentence and a 75,000 euro fine were required against Benzema. “The timing is quite particular, but we did not purposely fall at the same time as the trial, observes Pascal Ferré, editor-in-chief of France Football, founder and organizer of the Ballon d’Or since 1956.

“We do not designate the Nobel Peace Prize,” continues the journalist. We are much less ambitious. We designate the best football player of the year 2021. That said, we do not have blinders. Of course, among the criteria there is a certain form of exemplarity, on and off the pitch. “

In detail and in order, there are three criteria:

1. Individual and collective performances during the year.

2. Player class (talent and fair play).

3. Player’s career.

We tried to survey jurors around the globe to take their pulse. Most responded “off”, undoubtedly anxious to respect a form of solemnity around the prestigious award. “This affair has never influenced my vote”, slips a colleague from Central Europe, who sums up a fairly widespread opinion developed by the Nigerien Abdel-Malik Koudize, one of the two colleagues to testify with his face uncovered.

“I make the difference between on and off the pitch. Karim, with his current performance, is a serious contender. But it will face strong competition given the performance of its competitors in international competitions, be it the Euro, the Copa America or the League of Nations. “

Lasana Liburd of Trinidad and Tobago continues much on the same line. “I can say that this does not influence my vote, he is only a suspect and has not been sentenced to anything,” he told us on Wednesday. This does not mean that Benzema has my voice because there are other factors to consider, such as the performance of the candidate’s team during the calendar year. But I do not accept his ongoing lawsuit against him. “

70% of voters have already expressed themselves

The only dissonant voice, that of a journalist from a country in the Asian zone: “I have not yet made my choices, but of course the trial could have repercussions, especially if it turns out that it is at fault. “

An apparently very minority opinion within a jury resulting from a profession which one thought much more adept at procrastination. “About 70% of the votes have already reached us, confided this Thursday at the end of the day Pascal Ferré. If there was to be an influence [du procès], it would therefore be on the remaining 30%. In all honesty, I find it difficult to gauge the influence of a Franco-French trial on the jurors of Bhutan, Chile or Kazakhstan… ”

For the “redchef” of France Football, the athlete should prevail over the rest. “There is no conviction yet. The outcome of the trial will be known this Friday, a few days before the closing of the votes. Did some jurors wait for the verdict to rule? I do not think so. There are more who will wait for this weekend’s clasico. “

To summarize, a possible conviction of Karim Benzema this Friday at Versailles should count only marginally in the attribution of the Ballon d’Or. Only – sorry for the ugly cliché – the 2021 competition is likely to be played out on details, like that of 2019, the last before the Covid gets involved, when Lionel Messi had won his sixth award with seven tiny points of ahead of his runner-up Virgil Van Dijk.

No consequence in Blue?

Beyond this award, can the incredible trial in progress call into question the international future of the Madrilenian, author of a shattering return to Blue after five and a half years of absence? A shelving initially decided by the French Federation (FFF) when the center forward was placed under judicial control in the same case of the sextape, in 2016

“The FFF [représentée au procès par son avocat Me Benjamin Peyrelevade] will not comment on a hypothetical upcoming court decision, she told 20 minutes. She lets her do her job. The French Federation is a civil party in this procedure to have access to the file and to defend globally, if necessary, its image, that of the France team and its players. A full-time task at the moment, when we also think of the Lucas Hernandez case.

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