France striker Karim Benzema has been taken into police custody as part of a blackmail inquiry into an alleged plot to blackmail a fellow international, believed to be Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape, various media reported on Wednesday.
Attempted blackmail carries a maximum five-year prison sentence in France.
Detectives detained the Real Madrid striker for questioning a fortnight after the former France and Liverpool striker Djibril Cissé was interviewed and released as part of the same investigation.
Benzema, 27, was summoned to the police station at Versailles shortly before 9am on Wednesday morning. Afterwards the public prosecutor’s office would only confirm that he was being held for questioning.
The affair centres on the alleged attempted blackmail of an international midfielder with what the French news agency AFP said was a sex tape recorded on a mobile phone.
L’Equipe said investigators wanted to establish whether a conversation between Benzema and the player during a meeting of the French national team at the beginning of October was simply friendly advice or part of the plot.
Three suspects said to be in the “entourage” of several football players have been officially mis en examen – the French equivalent of being charged – since October.
The police investigation into the alleged blackmail attempt was opened at the end of July. Cissé was interviewed and immediately released from further inquiries.
Cissé protested his innocence on French television, saying he had nothing to do with the case. He later announced his retirement from the game.
Before Benzema was arrested, his lawyer Sylvain Cornier told the Sunday newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche that his client would respond to any summons. He added that Benzema was targeted by blackmailers in 2011.