The Mathieu Valbuena sex tape blackmail scandal and the involvement of Karim Benzema (and maybe even Samir Nasri) has been one of the most bizarre football related stories in recent years, and French media outlet Le Monde published the interview between Nathalie Boutard, the judge, and Benzema.
Benzema was arrested on 4 November for allegedly playing a part in Valbuena’s blackmailing, acting as something of a mediator between his France national team teammate and those holding the sex tape, some of them close friend of Benzema, people he grew up with.
This transcript in its translated version is possible due to the work of reddit user le_mams.
NATHALIE BOUTARD JUDGE: Do you recognize the facts for which we plan to put you in reviewing and, if so, to what extent?
Karim Benzema: No, I did not participate in that.
JUDGE: How do you perceive the facts alleged against you?
KB: I think this is a big misunderstanding, everything. Initially, I wanted to inform him of a story that was on him and help him. Because I’ve been through a similar situation, actually the same style. This is someone who plays with me in the France team, it’s a buddy. I wanted to make him aware of this history and talk to him to tell him that it had happened to me too before and see what he thought.
JUDGE: The telephone number 06.18.XX.XX.XX. is it yours or is it assigned to you?
KB: I have to look, because I do not know by heart my number, but it must be mine.
JUDGE: Were you the only one to use it?
K. B.: It’s only me who uses it.
JUDGE: Are you nicknamed “Coco”?
K. B.: Yes, that’s my nickname.
JUDGE: Do you know Mr. Karim Zenati?
K. B. Yes.
JUDGE: What is your relationship with him?
KB: He’s my friend, a good friend, like a brother. Yes, he’s a childhood friend.
JUDGE: What is your relationship with him?
K. B.: he’s employed in my business.
JUDGE: Since when?
K. B.: For two or three years.
JUDGE: Is this a company or an association?
KB: It is a company, but he also works on my association.
JUDGE: What is he doing in your company?
KB: I do not know what position he is in, but it is related to the association. I do not know the rules of the association.
JUDGE: Were you aware of his convictions and his current situation?
K. B. Yes. Yes, I knew he was on parole.
JUDGE: Karim Zenati is it supposed to be in contact with your agent, Karim Djaziri?
K. B. Yeah often.
JUDGE: How did you hear about the existence of an intimate video about Mr. Valbuena?
KB: I do not remember the exact date, but it was just a little before the France team, the game France-Armenia. It was a little before Clairefontaine. To answer you, it was about three weeks before. I was in Madrid. I was at a lunch with Karim Zenati. A person came to give me a Louis Vuitton pillow and told me about a video on Mathieu Valbuena.
JUDGE: This individual who gives you the Louis Vuitton pillow, you know him?
K. B. No, I did not know him. Yesterday, I was shown a picture and I recognized him. But I do not remember his name.
JUDGE: Continue your story.
KB: He gives me the cushion, he sits down, he said hello, but I did not listen to him, because I do not know him. He said that there is a video on Mathieu Valbuena, a hot video. And there, at that moment, I said to him: “Stop now, I do not want to hear about this. ” This person remained, we continued to eat and after we parted ways.
JUDGE: This person had lunch with you?
K. B. Yes, he ate.
JUDGE: How do you explain that while you are dining in Madrid with one of your friends, someone comes to you with a gift and talks to you about something strange? How did you come to invite him to your table for lunch?
KB: I have not asked, he came by himself, he knows Karim. Then I did not have any further contact with this person, it’s the only time I saw him.
JUDGE: When and under what circumstances did you come to talk to you about this video with Mr. Valbuena concerning him?
KB: It was in the France team, two days before the match France-Armenia. I saw him, it was at Clairefontaine. After lunch, I saw him in my room, I told him I had to talk to him about something. It was only him and me. I started to tell him about this video, I told him it was a “hot” video.
JUDGE: How did it went?
KB: When I started to tell him that there was a video, that I was on his side and that I could help (as it has happened to me and I told him so), he asked me questions about these kind of things. I told him that everything depended on him and that it was for him to decide. He told me about buzz, as we are public figures. I told him that the buzz stories, it was not my problem and he should do what he wanted to. I told him that there was someone who could see with him and try to help him too. It was Mr. Zenati.
JUDGE: Mr. Valbuena How did he react?
KB: At first, I felt he was embarrassed, very embarrassed. He asked what they wanted. I told him I did not know, that this was only help that I was offering him and nothing else. He said he had briefed his family. So I told him it did not mattered then if people wanted to release something. He said he was going to see his lawyer and that he had already gone to the police. After this I returned to Spain because I had injured my leg. He said he would tell me before the end of the NT gathering if he would continue to manage this alone or if it would want help from my friend. But he was already aware of the story.
JUDGE: You told us that the same kind of situation happenned to you before, did you pay then?
K. B.: I called the police and my lawyer. They asked me for money. I acted as if I was going to pay, but I did not pay.
JUDGE: Your telephone line has been the subject of legal interception. On October 6, 2015, you told to Mr. Zenati about your meeting with Mr. Valbuena. You told Mr. Zenati that “you saw the other” and you have said twice that you thought that he (Valbuena) “did not took you seriously.” What have you to say?
KB: I was speaking about the help, only the help that he could have by my friend Karim and my help. I really do not talk about anything else. You can listen to all my conversations, sometimes the phone, I abuse a little bit, I’m kidding. I only speak of help. I did not had anything behind my mind.
JUDGE: But Mr. Zenati answers you “yeah, it means truly, I think, he will not let go of anything that one, no.” This does not looks like help. What have you to say?
K. B.: I speak only of help. I will tell you that sometimes one says anything on the phone. But we only speak of help. If I was part of that group, I would not talk to Karim about it.
JUDGE: When Mr. Valbuena asks you if in the video we can see his tattoos, you reply [citing the transcript of the conversation with Benzema & Zenati], “I told him, you see everything, bro”, therefore you give credit to the existence of this video. What have you to say?
KB: I meant you could see his whole body. This is Karim who told me about this video, he told me about a “hot” video on Mathieu, so I thought we could see everything.
JUDGE: You even specify that “[Mr. Valbuena] was all white. ” What have you to say?
KB: When I say that he is white, is that it is uncomfortable. But I can say this because the same thing was said about me, I was white, I was uncomfortable.
JUDGE: You keep telling that you told Mr. Valbuena that the video is owned by one person, “bro’ listen, your video there is only one who has it, there is only one person who had it, I told him, there is not 50 people who owns it” You keep reiterating that “people, they talk a lot, but there’s only one that has your video. I told him, me, my friend, we can fix you the sauce… since he believes that there will be copies. ” What have you to say?
K. B. I talk about myself in relation to Karim. I only know him, I speak with him. He told me about the video. When he talks to me, I think that there is only one person. So I thought that there is no other copy. And that if he [Valbuena] wants to talk, he can discuss it with my friend.
JUDGE: How can you say that there is only one copy, while the only time you hear about this video is by a stranger who speaks to you?
KB: That’s because you did not ask me, but before the France team, I saw Karim. It’s only after seeing Karim, who told me that there was a video on him [Valbuena] that I talked to Mathieu.
JUDGE: When did you saw Karim Zenati?
KB: I do not remember exactly, but it was before the game France-Armenia.
JUDGE: Then you say to Mr. Valbuena, “I said seriously, I told him frankly, I saw myself, the video, I told him.” Have you seen the video?
K. B.: No I have not seen.
JUDGE: Why do you say you did then?
KB: Frankly I do not know why I said that. The video, I did not see it. As Karim told me that it was a serious video, that’s what I told Mathieu. I made a movie in my head with what Karim told me, because I trust him and he is my best friend.
JUDGE: Do you think Karim Zenati saw the video?
KB: I think he saw, because he spoke to me with details about it.
JUDGE: What kind of details did he gave you?
KB: That Mathieu could be seen in it, that it was a porn video, clearly sexual, and that he was filming himself.
JUDGE: You repeated, “he said yeah where did you saw it? I said, the video, I saw it one week before coming, I told him that I had seen the video. After he asked me questions, yeah, but how was it? … uh … where was it shot bro’?, how I saw him swallow sideways (french expression meaning a highly unpleasant feeling) he began to swallow two, three times through. ” Mr. Zenati laughs. What have you to say?
KB: As I said on the phone, this is an abuse. I’m not going for the same trip. It’s just that Mathieu was uncomfortable, severely uncomfortable. I do not know why we laughed like that, because it’s not right. The video, I did not see it. I said that I had seen it, but this is not true. I made a movie about it in my head, and voilà.
JUDGE: Is this really a friendly advice to lie about the existence of a video and therefore giving credit to the blackmail put in place?
K. B.: No, that’s not it. I do not know how to explain this to you. We’re football players. I know him, for a long time. What happened, it’s a rotten thing, no matter what. I know him in the France team, we are often together. There was a story in 2012, and I defended him. Afterwards, as I mentioned on the phone, it’s not good. He is someone I like. It was only for help, I had nothing else behind my mind, blackmail or money. Money I have plenty. I do not need money. My friend Karim neither. I give him money, he was employed in my company. After that, on the phone we’ve been abusing, I regret to have spoke in this way, because it’s not right.
JUDGE: You say you told Valbuena to get in touch with your friend: “there’s no intermediary, no lawyer, no friend, no agent, no police, no one you think of. Why such an advice?
K.B.: I’m talking rather about myself there. I didn’t want my name to come out, like it did later. It was rather for myself that I was saying that.
JUDGE: You proceed: I told him, if you want the video to be destroyed, my friend will get in touch with you in Lyon, you take care of that directly with him, you speak directly with him, I told him, you send nobody else.” What do you have to say?
K.B.: Because it concerns him. He does as he wants, but this is just my advice. He does as he wants. I told him my friend was in Lyon. But at the end of each sentence I said to Mathieu: “You do as you want”. But I didn’t say it on the phone.
JUDGE: You mentioned with Valbuena the fact that they would ask him for money only: “I told him, I know nothing about what they want, I told him, I don’t know, he told me, he wants money, well [know what I’m sayin’].” What do you have to say?
K..B: Mathieu asked me about what they wanted. I told him I didn’t know. But to me they had asked for money. But they can ask for anything and everything, I don’t know. But I think that when there’s a video like this what these people want is money.
JUDGE: Do you really think your friend’s intervention was “free of charge”?
K.B.: Of course. To me yes, because he is short of nothing in life. That’s why I don’t get this blackmail and money story. I repeat, he really is short of nothing in life. That’s what I was thinking, and so was my friend I think. Besides that, his other acquaintances… but he is short of nothing. I succeeded in life. I share it with him, because he’s my friend since he was a kid.
JUDGE: After this briefing of your meeting with Mr. Zenati, what relationship did you had with him?
KB: We’ve had no more contact, because I got injured and I returned to Madrid. We have not spoken about that after. We talked a little about football and we talked about everything, but not that. I do not remember mentioning anything else about Mathieu or the video.
JUDGE: On October 19, 2015, telephone conversation number 29, you seem very concerned about your name coming up, and you qualify Mr. Valbuena “faggot”. You set up a strategy to address the rumours in the press. Why such fear while you are particularly exposed to the press?
KB: I was not worried, but rather flustered. I was just upset. It is those who care for my communication who found this sentence. Now I have a family, I get mad when people invent stories. If I had been heard, no problem, but then I had not even been heard and in the press, I am told that I am part of a blackmail. Obviously, I’m pissed. I thought he [Valbuena] went to report me to the police, while I went to see him. After “faggot”, you can say it to everyone, to your friends, to your buddies. For me, for the new generation it is friendly. It is not a matter of being worried or I do not know what, it’s just upset. Again, I am in the press, again talking about me. That’s why I used that word.
JUDGE: Precisely when speaking ill of you in the press, you always use a communications consultant?
KB: Yes, I have someone who takes care of my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. He works in my company. I pay monthly invoice.
JUDGE: What are your true relationship with Mr. Valbuena?
KB: He’s a good friend of mine, we are often together in the France team, we are often kidding, we get along well.
JUDGE: You see each other outside team meetings for France?
K. B. No, I’m in Madrid. I see him in the France team and I met him on holiday twice.
JUDGE: Would you add anything?
KB: I’m really disappointed with the magnitude of this story, because blackmail, stuff like that, frankly it’s serious. Even for my friend Karim Zenati. I did everything so that he could come out of jail, everything so that he would have a better path in life, he works for me. And then to end up with a story like that, with a player of my team that I like, I’m disappointed. When I spoke on the phone, we laughed, we did not understood the scale of this thing, and it all falls back on me again. Frankly, it pisses me off for my friend. Frankly, I’m pissed.