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French soccer stars Ribery, Benzema face trial over underage prostitutes

French soccer stars are accused of soliciting underage prostitutes at Paris nightclub.
Ribery benzema trial underage prostitute 2012 08 15Enlarge
France's national football team coach Didier Deschamps (C) says he will not comment on the ongoing case. "It will not change my demands about players' behaviour on and off the pitch with respect to the French team," he said. (BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images)

Two internationally renowned soccer players will stand trial for allegedly paying for sexual encounters with an underage prostitute, according to the UK's Guardian newspaper.

Franck Ribéry, who plays for the German club Bayern Munich, and Karim Benzema, a striker at Real Madrid in Spain, are being charged in the most high profile sex scandal ever to hit French sports. Both players represent the French national team.

Andre Dando, the investigating magistrate, told CNN that "some of the defendants will be prosecuted for 'aggravated pimping', although I cannot disclose which ones at this time."

The allegations emerged after French police investigated claims that a nightclub in Paris had access to underage prostitutes.

The BBC reports that if the players are found guilty of paying for sex with someone under the age 18, under French law they could face up to three years in jail and a fine of 45,000 euros ($55,000). However, the BBC notes that the accused has to be aware of the minor's age.

According to CNN, one of the prostitutes, Zahia Dehar, appeared on the cover of Paris Match magazine in April. She said had sexual relations with several players on the national team, including Ribery, but said she did not tell the players she was under 18 at the time.

French soccer coach Didier Deschamps told Yahoo! Sports, "I won't be commenting on it as it has a private dimension. It's in the court's hands. It will not change my demands about players' behaviour on and off the pitch with respect to the French team."