Benzema addressed his withdrawal in an Instagram post. “I’ve never given up in my life but tonight I have to think of the team, as I have always done,” he said. “So reason tells me to give my place to someone who can help our squad have a great World Cup. Thanks for all your messages of support.” It will now be the first time since 1978, the reigning Ballon d’Or winner will not feature in the World Cup.
“Karim Benzema is out of the World Cup,” the French soccer federation (FFF) said. “After hurting the quadriceps on his left thigh the Real Madrid striker is forced to give up on taking part in the World Cup.”
France coach Didier Deschamps added: “I am extremely sad for Karim who had made this World Cup a major objective. Despite this new blow for the French team, I have full confidence in my group. We will do everything to meet the huge challenge that awaits us.”
Benzema had hardly played at all in recent weeks — since winning the Ballon d’Or, he has played fewer than 30 minutes for Madrid — and this was his first full training session with France.
Benzema was France’s top scorer at the 2014 World Cup but did not play in France’s victorious 2018 World Cup campaign because he was still exiled from the team for his alleged role in a sex-tape scandal with then-France teammate Mathieu Valbuena.
Earlier this week, Benzema gave reassuring news in an extract of an interview with L’Equipe’s television channel, which was set to air on Sunday.
“I’m fine. I had a bit of pain but no tear and no serious injury. I could have played (for Madrid) but I wasn’t at 100%,” he told L’Equipe’s TV channel this week. Benzema joins the list of big names injured shortly before the World Cup — like Senegal’s Sadio Mane and Germany’s Timo Werner. Not to mention Benzema’s own teammates, Paul Pogba, N’Gole Kante and Christopher Nkunku.
France faces Australia on Tuesday in Group D, then Denmark four days later and Tunisia on November 30.