French Sex Scandal
Ribery Faces an Uncertain Future
  Given his sprightly performance in the 37 minutes before he was sent off in Bayern Munich's Champions League semi-final first leg against Lyon on Wednesday night, Franck Ribery didn't seem to be showing any ill-effects from being linked to the under-age call-girl scandal which is rocking French football.

While the Bayern midfielder's determined play and attacking threat remained undimmed before he was controversially shown the red card, it's likely that the full effects of the allegations aimed at him in connection with a suspected prostitution ring at a Paris nightspot are just round the corner.

The scandal is already throwing Ribery's expected involvement in the World Cup this summer into doubt. With France coach Raymond Domenech set to name his squad in about three weeks, the sex scandal could not have come at a worse time for the beleaguered team. Despite Ribery being one of the few players to shine during qualification, his call-up for South Africa may still be in doubt – not because of any moral decision on the France coach's part but because of possible police intervention.

During police questioning earlier this week, Ribery admitted having relations with the prostitute but said he did not know she was underage. His case will now go before a judge who will decide whether or not to bring charges against him. If charged and found guilty, the Bayern winger could face a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros ($60,000 dollars)

With international team mates Sidney Govou of Lyon and Real Madrid's Karim Benzema also mentioned in the investigation, France – who already prepare for South Africa under a cloud due to the Thierry Henry handball scandal – could be hit by further bad news.

Whether he serves jail time or not, Ribery could see a dream move to Real Madrid evaporate as a result of the scandal.

The Bayern star has been linked to possible multi-million euro transfers to Barcelona and Real Madrid this season after throwing his future in Germany into doubt with a number of non-committal statements of intent.

After saying last month that he would prefer a move to Spain if he left Bayern, he announced last week that his future would be resolved "in ten days." With the prostitution scandal breaking just after that, he may have been right.

Spanish sports daily Marca, without citing sources, immediately published an article in which it claimed that the scandal swirling around Ribery had "warded off almost definitely" the chance of the Frenchman joining Real Madrid. Barcelona are now also likely to consider the same action.

There was also talk of him heading to the Premiership with Chelsea but after the John Terry and Ashley Cole infidelity scandals at the London club, it is unlikely that Chelsea will want another alleged sex pest on their books.

Ribery's Bayern deal expires next year so he at least will be under contract in Munich if the current scandal scuppers a move away. How that will affect future negotiations with the Bayern hierarchy remains to be seen.

Who knows – maybe Franck Ribery will have a new three-year contract by then, with the All-Star Prison XI.
Nick Amies 22.04.2010, 13:30 # 0 Comments
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