A social media storm surrounding Karim Benzema erupted when a fabricated tweet falsely claiming his arrest at an Apple Store in France gained viral traction.
The misleading tweet originated from a user called ‘The Madrid Zone,’ asserting, “Karim Benzema has been arrested at an Apple Store in France. Someone called the police after they overheard him say ‘What is price for 15?‘”
To lend credibility to the fake news, the user tagged L’Équipe, a reputed newspaper in France. It’s noteworthy that ‘The Madrid Zone’ is a parody account imitating the prominent Madrid fan account, “Madrid Zone,” boasting approximately 900k followers. The parody account employed a similar username and profile picture to its genuine counterpart, successfully deceiving some fans.
Jail FC strikes once again (even when the transfer window isn’t open)
— Aconic (@_aconic) September 18, 2023
Further adding to the deception, the parody account utilized an old, grainy image of Benzema inside a car, misleading observers into thinking it was a police vehicle and that the player had indeed been arrested.
The comments section reflected the confusion sparked by the misleading news. Responses ranged from humorous, with comments like “Pedozema,” and “Jail FC strikes once again,” to concerned, as fans expressed sentiments like “My heart stopped” and “What is wrong with that?”
Comments like “I had to check the account name,” “You got us the entire time” and “Bro always cooks when its against Benzema,” also gained attention as fans caught the parody account and didn’t fall for the bait.
Some astute fans recognized the reference used by the parody account to troll Benzema and his fan base. The tweet’s allusion harked back to Benzema’s 2014 trial in a French court, where he faced charges related to his involvement with an underage p***titute, alongside fellow French player Franck Ribery. The age of consent is 15 years old in France, hence the incorporation of “15” in the viral tweet.
Karim Benzema’s trial for alleged underage p***titution
In 2014, a high-profile scandal rocked French sport, putting Karim Benzema and Franck Ribery on trial. They were accused of engaging with an underaged individual, Zahia Dehar, in a case that drew significant attention.
At the time of the trial, Ribery played for FC Bayern Munich, while Benzema represented Real Madrid. The allegations revolved around paid encounters with Dehar, who was under 18 years old at the time. Although the legal age of consent in France was 15, it was still against the law to engage in p***stitution with individuals under 18.
Dehar, during the investigation, asserted that Benzema had paid for s*x with her in 2008 when she was 16. She also claimed that Ribéry had paid for s*x with her the following year, even flying her to Munich as a “birthday present” for himself.
Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema’s trial for having sex with Zahir Dehar, an under-aged prostitute, starts today. pic.twitter.com/YEBEIJozzY
— GiveMeSport (@GiveMeSport) January 20, 2014
Importantly, Dehar maintained that neither player was aware of her true age. This case originated in 2009 and finally concluded in 2014 when a French court dropped the charges. The decision stemmed from insufficient evidence proving that the accused men were aware of Dehar’s minor status at the time of the alleged offenses.
Both Benzema and Ribery vehemently denied the charges during the trial. Had they been convicted, they could have faced up to three years in prison. However, the charges were ultimately dismissed, allowing both players to continue their professional careers.
Despite the legal outcome, the trial’s notoriety lingered in the public eye, particularly on social media platforms. Karim Benzema, in particular, faced ongoing trolling throughout his career, with references to the number 15, serving as a reminder of the enduring impact of this scandal on his otherwise illustrious career.