Zidane hit with three month Real Madrid coaching ban

French star had the wrong qualifications but was coaching the Real Madrid B team

Zinedine Zidane
(Image credit: PEDRO ARMESTRE/AFP/Getty )

Could David Cameron found an ally in his battle against European red tape? The British Prime Minister loves nothing better than railing at continental jobsworths, and now French football legend Zinedine Zidane has cause to join him and complain about petty bureaucracy getting in the way of common sense.

The 42-year-old World Cup winner – not to mention three-time recipient of the World Footballer of the Year award - has been slapped with a three-month ban after being found guilty of coaching without the correct qualifications.

The punishment, handed down by the Spanish Football Federation, means the former France midfielder can't coach Real Madrid Castilla, the Spanish club's B side, until the new year.

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According to Metro Zidane was found guilty because the Frenchman's UEFA 'A' license only constitutes a "Level 2 qualification", one rank below the "Level 3" licence required. It's believed Zidane was reported to the committee by Miguel Galan, head of the National Centre for Developing Coaches in Spain, who spotted that Zidane didn't have the relevant qualifications to take charge of the Real Madrid B Team.

Real are furious at the ban, issuing a statement on Monday night in which they expressed their "absolute disagreement" with the decision. Explaining that Zidane "has been authorised by the French Football Federation to work as a head coach in the category Real Madrid Castilla currently find themselves in", Real concluded by promising they "will pursue every available legal avenue so that this decision is overturned". The club has ten days in which to lodge an appeal with the Spanish Football Federation.

Zidane, who was appointed reserve-team coach in the summer after a stint working with Carlo Ancelotti and the first team squad, has been a relatively low-key presence at Real Madrid since his appointment as the club's sporting director in 2011, but he has spent some of his time in France taking a series of coaching qualifications in his homeland, as he explained recently in an interview to Le Figaro.

"The fuss that has blown up about my diplomas is out of order," he said. "It annoys me... it's been three years that I've been working on passing my diplomas in France. I could have passed them in three months in Spain. But, justifiably, what interests me is to continue my progression in France... I have always tried to do things within the rules and yes, the criticism bothers me".

Asked if he was being targeted because of his nationality, Zidane replied: "A lot of other coaches are in my position and people say nothing. The Spanish coaching union knows it and their position is clear: 'If they point the finger at Zidane then they must point it at the others'."

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Bill Mann is a football correspondent for The Week.co.uk, scouring the world's football press daily for the popular Transfer Talk column.