Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 31st 2014 Contents PARIS---Bayern Munich
winger Franck Ribery
and Real Madrid for-
ward Karim Benzema
were acquitted on
charges of soliciting an underage
prostitute on Wednesday, ending a
case that has lasted more than three
years and tarnished both players
The French judge ruled there was-
n t enough proof the men were
aware that self-described escort
Zahia Dehar, now 21, was a minor
at the time. The case has been hang-
ing over the players since July 2010,
when a French judge issued prelim-
inary charges against them.
Neither player was president as
the criminal court announced the
verdicts, but the relief and emotion
got to Ribery s lawyer, Carlo Alberto
Brusa, who was in tears as he phoned
the France star to tell him he d been
cleared of all charges.
"When you experience moments
like that you get goose bumps, as
he told me himself," Brusa told The
Associated Press when asked how
Ribery felt upon hearing the news.
"He has an extraordinary character,
and he s someone I respect a lot. I
think it s a victory, a victory for jus-
The two footballers had faced up
to three years in prison if found
Dehar contends Ribery flew her
to Munich as a birthday present to
himself in 2009 when she was under
18. She says she lied to the players
and told them she was an adult.
Dehar was also not present at the
Although Ribery has admitted to
having sex with Dehar, he claims he
did not pay her and that he did not
know she was a prostitute or a minor
at the time.
"We did a lot of work, serious
work analysing the file to establish
the fact that there was no proof (that
Ribery knew she was underage),"
Brusa told the AP.
Prostitution is legal in France, but
prostitutes must be over 18.
Benzema s lawyer Sylvain Cormier
said he "could feel all the weight
coming off, it was morally very try-
Cormier called the verdict "the
end of a nightmare" for Benzema.
"It was very painful for him. He s
a strong person, he really ipressed
me. Four years is a very long time."
Benzema has denied all the alle-
gations. The 26-year-old Benzema
is alleged to have paid €500
(US$678) to have sex with Dehar in
May 2008, the night he won the
French player of the year award play-
ing for his former club, Lyon. Dehar
was 16 at the time.
Ribery had the best season of his
career in 2012-13, helping Bayern
win the Bundesliga, the German Cup
and Champions League. He finished
third in the recent Ballon d Or vote
behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano
"Playing football with that weigh-
ing on you is not easy and for me
it s the sign of a great champion,"
Brusa said. "He showed in 2013 that
he s a fantastic player."
Benzema has passed the 100-goal
mark for Madrid since joining the
Spanish giant from Lyon in 2009.
The criminal court trial had ini-
tially been set for last June but was
adjourned for procedural reasons. It
resumed last week.
Ribery is alleged to have had sex
with Dehar three times---including
at the home of Kamel Ramdani, 39,
one of several people who were on
trial after a probe into a suspected
network of prostitutes operating out
of a nightclub called "Zaman Cafe"
on Paris Champs-Elysees.
The establishment was run by
Georges Farhat, 30, who employed
his younger brother, Elie Farhat, 26.
Both were present to hear their
Georges was sentenced to 18
months in prison, nine of those sus-
pended, and fined €20,000
(US$27,150). His brother was handed
a one-year prison sentence, with six
months suspended and fined €5,000
(US$6,800). Ramdani was sentenced
to five months in jail and fined
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RIO DE JANEIRO---Less than
ten percent of ticket requests
will be filled in Fifa s second
phase of allocations for the
Fifa received 3.5 million
ticket requests in the second
phase, and said on Thursday
that 80 per cent of the re-
quests were from Brazilians.
About 220,000 tickets will
be awarded in an electronic
draw next month. Successful
applicants are to be notified by
"Naturally, this level of de-
mand can cause some disap-
and incomprehension among
football supporters," said
Thierry Weil, the Fifa official
in charge of ticketing.
Fifa said it was postponing
the next sale phase period by
two weeks. It will begin on
March 12, and will be on a
first-come, first-served basis.
Fifa said applicants who win
in the lottery must have funds
in their bank accounts.
Less than 10 per cent of World Cup requests to be met
SAO PAULO---England coach
Roy Hodgson seems to have
made up with local officials in
the Brazilian jungle city of
Hodgson got into a public
spat with Manaus' mayor be-
fore the World Cup draw in De-
cember, but both sides
appeared to bury the hatchet
Hodgson wrote a letter ex-
pressing his enthusiasm about
arriving in June, when city offi-
cials say they are planning a
warm welcome for England.
Hodgson said in a letter pub-
lished by Amazonas state Gov.
Omar Aziz on Thursday that he
was "looking forward to experi-
encing" the city in what
"promises to be one of the
highlights of the tournament"
Aziz said the city was plan-
ning a "warm reception" when
Hodgson and his team arrive.
After Hodgson said in De-
cember that Manaus was the
place to avoid during the World
Cup, mayor Arthur Virgilio re-
leased a statement saying
England would not be wel-
Virgilio said at the time he
was hoping to get "a better
team and a coach who is more
sensible and polite," calling
Hodgson "one of the few peo-
ple in the world who is not curi-
ous about the Amazon, who
doesn't want to know Man-
In a letter dated Jan. 17 and
released yesterday, Hodgson
said "we are extremely happy
to be vising your city" ahead of
the team's World Cup opener
against Italy on June 14.
"I am particularly keen to
make contact with you follow-
ing last year's media reports
about the England v Italy
match in Manaus," he wrote. "I
would like to put on record that
I am looking forward to experi-
encing your city, learning about
the culture and history and of
course meeting the people!"
.....Ribery, Benzema acquitted in trial
End of a nightmare
In this file photo, From left, Franck Ribery, left, and Karim Benzema pay attention to the French national anthem
during a World Cup qualifying playoff second-leg soccer match France against Ukraine at Stade de France stadium in
Saint Denis, outside Paris. A trial involving Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery and Real Madrid forward Karim
Benzema ended yesterday with both being found not guilty. AP PHOTO
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