Report: Former Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane turns down USMNT job
The United States men’s national team does not have a head coach currently under contract, but one report suggests that the U.S. Soccer Federation is swinging for the fences as it gears up for the 2026 FIFA men’s World Cup.
According to French outlet L’Equipe, France legend and former Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane was offered the head coach position with the USMNT but turned it down. He also reportedly had offers to coach the Brazil and Portugal men’s national teams but rejected those as well.
Zidane was a former star midfielder for top European clubs Juventus and Real Madrid during his legendary playing career. He also played a major role in guiding France to its first men’s World Cup title in 1998, scoring two first-half goals in Les Blues’ win over Brazil in the final.
After retirement, Zidane has had two very successful stints as Real Madrid manager, from 2016-2018 and again from 2019-2021. Under Zidane’s leadership, Real Madrid won two La Liga titles, three UEFA Champions League titles, two Supercopa de España trophies, and both the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup in 2016 and 2017.
Zidane’s dream national team job is to coach the French national team that he once played for, per L’Equipe. However, France recently extended current coach Didier Deschamps through June 2026 following back-to-back successful men’s World Cup runs in 2018 and 2022.
France earned its second World Cup title in 2018 and nearly added a third in 2022, falling in penalty kicks to Lionel Messi and Argentina in a thrilling World Cup final. Deschamps earned widespread praise for getting an injury-battered French side to the brink of a repeat title in Qatar. He has managed the French men’s team since 2012.
Kylian Mbappé, Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann and every goal for France in the 2022 FIFA World Cup
The USMNT’s own head coaching position remains in flux following the team’s elimination by the Netherlands in the Round of 16 at Qatar, as Gregg Berhalter’s contract was allowed to expire on Dec. 31.
Berhalter has said he wants to remain the coach through the 2026 World Cup, but it’s unclear if that will happen after the disclosure of a 1991 incident in which he acknowledged kicking his now-wife Rosalind. Berhalter released a statement on the incident on Tuesday to get ahead of what he suggested was a blackmail attempt.
“An individual contacted U.S. Soccer, saying that they had information about me that would ‘take me down’ — an apparent attempt to leverage something very personal from a long time ago to bring about the end of my relationship with U.S. Soccer,” Berhalter wrote on his unverified Twitter account, the authenticity of which FOX Sports was able to confirm.
Danielle Reyna, a former American player who was Rosalind’s college roommate — informed the U.S. Soccer Federation of the 1991 incident on Dec. 11. That came after Berhalter made critical remarks at a leadership conference about an unidentified player later revealed to be 20-year-old Gio Reyna, the son of Danielle Reyna and former U.S. captain Claudio Reyna.
Danielle Reyna has denied that she threatened to report the incident before actually doing so, or that she sought to “bring about the end” of Berhalter’s “relationship with U.S. Soccer,” as Berhalter alleged.
“I want to be very clear that I did not ask for Gregg to be fired. I did not make any threats, and I don’t know anything about any blackmail attempts,” she said. “I’m sorry that this information became public, and I regret that I played a role in something that could reopen wounds from the past.”
Claudio Reyna also denied trying to get Berhalter fired.
U.S. soccer officials say an independent investigation into the whole affair is ongoing.
“I think the worst part of it for me is my heart aches for my wife because it was her story to tell if she chose to or not,” Berhalter said at a Harvard Business Review event Thursday. “That’s what just really saddens me.”
Anthony Hudson, a former USMNT assistant under Berhalter, will serve as interim USMNT head coach during the team’s January camp, which will involve friendlies against Serbia and Colombia. USSF leadership has stated it is still evaluating full-time coaching candidates and Berhalter remains a candidate to return to his role pending the outcome of the investigation.
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