Things have gone from bad to worse for soccer superstar Karim Benzema ... who has now been hit with formal charges for allegedly conspiring to extort a teammate over a sex tape.
The 27-year-old Real Madrid star was arrested Wednesday in France -- with investigators claiming he had a role in trying to extort his French national teammate Mathieu Valbuena.
Benzema spent the night in a cell in Versailles ... and now, he's been formally charged with complicity in an attempt to blackmail and conspiring to commit a criminal act.
The sex tape in question was reportedly shot on a cell phone -- officials say Benzema was part of a plot to extort money out of Valbuena and in exchange they wouldn't publish the tape.
If Benzema is convicted, he faces up to 5 years in prison.
For his part, Benzema -- who was famously connected to Rihanna over the summer -- denies any wrongdoing.
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