Friday, 19 Apr 2024

Euro 2016: The Complex Relationship between Karim Benzema and his Hometown

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The story of Karim Benzema, the star striker of Real Madrid, has captivated the attention of France. However, his exclusion from the French national team for Euro 2016 due to allegations of blackmail has left a deep sense of injustice not just among his fans but also in his hometown of Lyon.

The Connection to Lyon

Benzema’s ties to Lyon are evident. The house where his parents still live bears his name on the letterbox, despite Benzema’s success and attempts to move them to a more luxurious residence. His decision to let his parents stay in their modest home in the district of Bron-Terraillon, located in the suburbs of Lyon, is a testament to his attachment to his roots.

A Lost Child or a Misunderstood Talent?

Benzema is often portrayed as a product of the troubled banlieues of France, with Bron-Terraillon being labeled as a high-crime area. However, a visit to Benzema’s neighborhood reveals a different reality. While the area may not be affluent, it is not an infested den of crime. It is a place where Benzema still finds comfort and a sense of belonging.

Benzema’s Controversies

Benzema’s exclusion from the French national team for Euro 2016 is not solely based on the blackmail allegations involving his teammate Mathieu Valbuena. The decision also takes into account his association with controversial figures and his own legal issues.

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One such association was with the rapper Booba, who is known for his explicit lyrics and videos. Benzema’s appearance in a video for Booba’s song ‘Walabok’, where explicit content was prominent, raised eyebrows and created a negative image for the footballer.

Additionally, Benzema was involved in a criminal case in 2010, where he was charged with soliciting an underage prostitute. Despite being acquitted, these controversies further tarnished his reputation.

The Role of Politics and Public Perception

The exclusion of Benzema from the national team sparked a wave of public debate, with politicians weighing in on the matter. French President François Hollande and Prime Minister Valls both expressed their belief that athletes should act as role models, which influenced public opinion.

The perception that Benzema had violated the moral standards expected of a professional athlete played a significant role in his exclusion. The media scrutiny and public judgment surrounding his actions affected not only his football career but also the love and support he received from his hometown.

The Search for Justice

Many in Lyon struggle to understand why Benzema’s actions are being treated more harshly than those of other athletes. Comparisons are made to handball player Nikola Karabatic, who was found guilty of match-fixing but still represented France. The perceived double standards and the belief that Benzema’s exclusion is politically motivated fuel the feeling of injustice in the city of Lyon.


Q: Is Benzema still connected to his hometown of Lyon?
A: Yes, Benzema’s parents still live in Lyon, and he frequently visits them and his old neighborhood.

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Q: What controversies has Benzema been involved in?
A: Benzema has faced allegations of blackmail and has been associated with controversial figures, such as the rapper Booba.

Q: Why was Benzema excluded from the French national team?
A: Benzema’s exclusion was not solely based on the blackmail allegations. Public opinion and the perception of his actions played a significant role.


Karim Benzema’s complicated relationship with his hometown of Lyon reflects the deep sense of injustice felt by many in the city regarding his exclusion from the French national team. Despite controversies and legal issues, Benzema remains connected to his roots, but his actions have made it difficult for some to fully support him. As the Euro 2016 tournament unfolds, the debate surrounding Benzema’s exclusion continues to divide opinion in Lyon and beyond.