Skip to main content

France stars Ribery and Benzema face charge in prostitution case

August 15, 2012 -- Updated 0034 GMT (0834 HKT)
Karim Benzema, right, with Franck Ribery during the Euro 2012 match against Sweden in Kiev on June 19.
Karim Benzema, right, with Franck Ribery during the Euro 2012 match against Sweden in Kiev on June 19.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Investigating magistrate says Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema will stand trial
  • Andre Dando tells CNN that the case will be heard "well into 2013"
  • Ribery has admitted sleeping with a prostitute but says he did not know she was underage
  • Both players are regulars in France's national soccer team

(CNN) -- Two of France's most high-profile football stars will face a court trial next year, being charged with allegedly soliciting an underage prostitute, the Paris prosecutor's office said.

Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema, who both played for France at the Euro 2012 finals in June, were first questioned two years ago about their alleged involvement in a prostitution ring.

"Some of the defendants will be prosecuted for 'aggravated pimping,' although I cannot disclose which ones at this time," the investigating magistrate Andre Dando told CNN on Tuesday.

"The trial is months away and will be well into 2013, I expect."

Ribery plays for German club Bayern Munich, while Benzema is at Real Madrid.

An official from Madrid, which won the Spanish league title last season, said the club could not comment as it had no information about Dando's statement.

FIFA in crisis over bribery scandal
Spain's soccer team celebrates with the Euro 2012 trophy on a double-decker bus during the victory parade in Madrid on Monday. Spain defeated Italy 4-0 in the final match on Sunday. Euro 2012, bringing together 16 of Europe's best national soccer teams, began June 8 in Poland and Ukraine. Look back at the action and atmosphere. Spain's soccer team celebrates with the Euro 2012 trophy on a double-decker bus during the victory parade in Madrid on Monday. Spain defeated Italy 4-0 in the final match on Sunday. Euro 2012, bringing together 16 of Europe's best national soccer teams, began June 8 in Poland and Ukraine. Look back at the action and atmosphere.
Euro 2012: The best photos
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Euro 2012: The best photos Euro 2012: The best photos

Bayern has yet to respond to CNN's request for a statement.

The case emerged in 2010, before the France team went to the FIFA World Cup tournament, after police raided a nightclub near the Champs Elysees in central Paris and detained 18 girls on suspicion of prostitution.

Ribery's attorney says footballer is innocent

One of the girls, Zahia Dehar, appeared on the cover of "Paris Match" magazine in April that year and in an interview said she had sexual relations with several players on the national team, including Ribery, whom she had met at the club.

She said she hadn't told them she was younger than 18 at the time, although she was 16.

In an initial court hearing on the case, Ribery admitted he had sex with Dehar but insisted he did not know she was a minor.

"He is innocent until proven guilty," said his lawyer Sophie Bottai. "I am sure the investigation will prove that Ribery was never aware of her age."

Ribery allegedly bought a plane ticket for Dehar, but Bottai said he never personally booked it and never saw her passport.

"There is no evidence that he was ever aware of her age," Bottai said. "She told him she was 20 years old."

If found guilty, the players could face a prison term of up to three years, or a fine of €45,000 ($58,390).

Dehar has since become a fashion designer, and launched her own collection this year.

CNN's Alex Felton and Al Goodman contributed to this story.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1328 GMT (2128 HKT)
A picture taken on May 16, 2014 shows 15-year-old Norwegian footballer Martin Oedegaard of club Stroemsgodset IF cheering during a match in Drammen, Norway. Oedegaard is set to become Norways youngest player ever in the national football team.
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is provoking huge media interest and the hungry attention of Europe's top clubs.
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
Last season Jose Mourinho wrote off the title of hopes of his "little horse" -- but now he has a squad primed to dethrone Manchester City.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1858 GMT (0258 HKT)
Luis Suarez will have to wait until late October to make his competitive Barcelona debut his ban for biting an opponent was partially upheld.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1649 GMT (0049 HKT)
Can Louis van Gaal cut it at Manchester United? Will Bayern conquer all in Germany? Is this PSG's year to win the Champions League?
August 7, 2014 -- Updated 1012 GMT (1812 HKT)
It's been a difficult year for Barcelona on and off the pitch, and the signing of Luis Suarez has only increased the prospect of more controversy.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 1435 GMT (2235 HKT)
Germany striker Miroslav Klose, who scored a total of 16 goals at four World Cup finals, has announced his retirement from international football.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
Cultural y Deportivo Leonesa line up in their tuxedo kit.
When celebrating an important anniversary, it's always good to look your best. At least that's theory for a Spanish football team's preseason tuxedo kit.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1103 GMT (1903 HKT)
While many top European clubs are targeting the U.S. market, French football is setting its sights on expanding into Asia -- with China playing a key role.
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1229 GMT (2029 HKT)
Major League Soccer has snared another big name from England with former Chelsea star Frank Lampard committing his future to New York City FC.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1656 GMT (0056 HKT)
Europe's top clubs have booked a summer holiday to the U.S. -- but this is business not pleasure as they look to cash in on the World Cup afterglow.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1828 GMT (0228 HKT)
Brazil's new coach Dunga won the World Cup as a player in 1994.
Former World Cup-winning captain Dunga is appointed coach of Brazil's national team for the second time, charged with restoring national pride.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1420 GMT (2220 HKT)
Colombia's World Cup star James Rodriguez continues Real Madrid's long tradition of signing "Galacticos."
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1007 GMT (1807 HKT)
Germany's World Cup-winning captain Philipp Lahm has decided to go out at the top by announcing his retirement from international football.
ADVERTISEMENT