Bayern support Ribery over under-age sex case

Bayern Munich have given their backing to embattled France winger Franck Ribery, after he and compatriot Karim Benzema were sent for trial for allegedly soliciting an under-age prostitute.

The Bavarian giants' sporting director Matthias Sammer told German sports news agency SID that they were aware of the situation and "we will tell him that we stand by him and that he will get our best support".

An investigating magistrate in Paris on Tuesday ruled that Ribery, who has played for Bayern since 2007, and Real Madrid forward Benzema would be sent for trial with seven others over the affair, which broke before the 2010 World Cup.

During an investigation into call-girls frequenting a Parisian bar, Zahia Dehar told police that Ribery and Benzema paid her for sex while she was 16, although she said the players were unaware that she was not 18.

Some of those facing trial have been charged with "aggravated pimping".

Soliciting sex with an under-age prostitute is punishable by up to three years in prison and a maximum 45,000-euro (£35,000, $55,000) fine.

Ribery's lawyer told AFP that she was astonished by the magistrate's decision, after a previous judge had said there was no case to answer against the two French internationals.

"This decision is as surprising as it is unfair with regard to the contents of the dossier and the requests of the prosecutor's office. But I remain confident about the outcome of the process," Sophie Bottai told AFP.

Benzema's lawyer was not immediately available for comment.

Ribery and Benzema have been named in Didier Deschamps' side to play Uruguay in a friendly in the northern city of Le Havre on Wednesday.

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