After an extremely disappointing performance at the Soccer World Cup in South Africa, the French team is facing even more bad publicity as star footballer Franck Ribery is facing charges for soliciting an underage prostitute. A French judge has issued the preliminary charges today after a thorough questioning of Ribery and another French soccer star, Karim Benzema.
The scandal made the front pages of French media before the World Cup, but it has now moved to official action taken by the police and the French judiciary system. Although only Ribery is currently facing said charges, the shame spreads on the entire national team. The outrage was fueled by the allegations of a self-described escort girl that Ribery, who is married and has fathered two children, who has stated the footballer has brought her to a birthday celebration as a present for himself back when she was still a minor. Zahia Dehar, currently 18, has also told the French media that several other players of France’s national team had paid for sexual intercourse with her before turning 18.
Prostitution is legal in France, as long as the prostitutes are not underage. If they are not, those soliciting their sexual services are held responsible, as it is their obligation to make sure they are not dealing with minors. Ribery’s case is in the investigation and the preliminary charges only allow those in charge to expand their search. Four other individuals have also been issued preliminary charges and detained in April, to be released soon after. If found guilty the footballer faces up to 3 years in prison and a 60 000 USD fine.
Ribery’d attorney does not deny him having hired the prostitute accusing him, yet he denies the star footballer had any knowledge of her age.
“Ribery’s lawyer Sophie Bottai said that for the player to be convicted he “would have had to know her age, which wasn’t the case.”
“She would have had to look like a minor, which wasn’t the case, she would have to have told him she was a minor, which wasn’t the case,” Bottai said.
After a disappointing performance at the World Cup, France’s national team not revels in the sex scandal that keeps unfolding. Whatever the outcome, they will still have a hard time washing away all the bad PR.