Three days prior to the France national team making its debut in the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, current Ballon d’Or winner, Karim Benzema, pulled out of the tournament due to a thigh injury.
The news that Benzema would miss his third consecutive World Cup broke on Saturday, leaving the defending champions even more shorthanded.
France will also be without the injured N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba.
This is not the first time Benzema has missed a FIFA World Cup.
Benzema, 34, also missed South Africa 2010 and Russia 2018.
Why did Benzema miss the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa?
When France head coach Raymond Domenech discarded Benzema in 2010, it was allegedly over his lack of consistency with Real Madrid, where he now shines as a top star.
A sex scandal involving Benzema was later thought to be the reason why he wasn’t chosen, but other players who were also accused made the final roster.
“Karim is young and very talented, I am sure he will play in other World Cups,” Domenech said of a 22-year-old Benzema at the time.
Benzema would in fact go on to play the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, but a similar disastrous scandal kept him out of the next edition.
Why did Benzema miss the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia?
Benzema was not considered for Russia 2018, and head coach Didier Deschamps never confirmed why.
Benzema, however, was involved in another sex scandal, this time featuring a sex tape of teammate Mathieu Valbuena.
Benzema was accused of having knowledge of the tape and forming part of the extortion network that blackmailed Valbuena.
Five years had to pass before Benzema was called up to the France national team and he arrived as the Ballon d’Or winner.
He was shaping up to be one of the stars in Qatar 2022, but his injury leaves France with fewer hopes of repeating as champions.