World Cup

Benzema faces court clash

France's forward Karim Benzema (L) reacts after missing to score
France forward Karim Benzema is due on court on a reckless driving charge.
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BARCELONA, Spain (AP)

France striker Karim Benzema will appear in a Madrid court on charges of reckless driving on the same day his side hosts Spain in an all-important World Cup qualifier.

The Real Madrid player has been called to appear before a judge at 10 a.m. local time on March 26. Kickoff in Paris is 10 hours later in a match that could decide which team wins their qualifying group to earn a spot at the 2014 World Cup.

Court officials told The Associated Press on Friday that Benzema's court date cannot be changed.

Police in Madrid caught the player driving his car at 216 kilometers per hour (134 mph) in a speed zone of 100 kph (62 mph) on Feb. 3. He faces losing his driver's license and a fine.

Benzema's driving drew criticism from Spain's Association of Traffic Accident Victims, which has asked Madrid to take action on its own.

''Fortunately, it didn't result in a tragedy, but (the club) should take into account that the consequences could have been very grave,'' association president Francisco Canes said in a press statement. ''Real Madrid shouldn't allow this type of conduct by its players.''

Madrid spokeswoman Marta Santisteban told The AP that the club never made public its internal disciplinary procedures, and she neither confirmed nor denied if the club had acted in the case of Benzema's driving.

This is the second time the 25-year-old former Lyon star has been caught by police for breaking the speed limit.

Benzema was fined for reckless driving when police stopped him racing through the city center on the Mediterranean island Ibiza in June 2011. At that time, Benzema paid a 250 euros ($325) fine in cash on the spot and did not have to appear in court.

Four days before France and Spain meet, France plays Georgia while Spain plays Finland in qualifiers they are favored to win.

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