France striker Karim Benzema has been ruled out for the entirety of the 2022 World Cup after suffering a quad injury in training on Saturday.
Benzema, 34, reportedly felt a sharp pain in his left quad near the end of France’s training session. He was initially ruled out for the team’s opening game against Australia on Tuesday before the French national team confirmed that he was out for the whole tournament.
Benzema was set to make his first World Cup appearance since 2014. He missed the 2018 tournament that France won after he was dropped from the national team because of extortion allegations against him after he conspired to blackmail a teammate over a sex tape. He returned to the national team in 2021 after a nearly six-year absence.
The Real Madrid forward won the 2022 Ballon d’Or for the best men’s soccer player in the world. Benzema was phenomenal for Real Madrid a season ago as the La Liga giants won their 14th Champions League title. He scored 15 goals in 12 Champions League matches last season and had 27 goals in 32 La Liga appearances.
Benzema had been dealing with a knee injury before the World Cup but was preparing to play in the tournament after he had missed time at Real Madrid. He’s played in just seven La Liga matches for Real this season but has scored five goals.
His injury adds to the France injury crisis that was already in full effect ahead of the World Cup. Midfielders N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba have long been ruled out of the tournament after they were integral to France’s win four seasons ago. Christopher Nkunku was ruled out of the World Cup earlier in the week after he suffered an injury in training. No. 2 goalie Mike Maignan has been out since October because of a calf injury and defender Presnel Kimpembe removed himself from national team consideration due to injury. Centerbacks Jules Kounde and Raphael Varane are also dealing with injuries they sustained during their club seasons, though they hope to play in Qatar.
France is in Group D with Denmark, Tunisia and Australia. Before his injury, Benzema was one of the favorites to win the Golden Boot award for top scorer along with teammate Kylian Mbappe.