COVID-19: Zidane back, president tests positive

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has tested positive for COVID-19, the club has announced, as coach Zinedine Zidane returned to work after recovering from the virus.

Perez received the diagnosis on the day that the French coach took his first session at the club’s Valdebebas training ground since testing positive himself on Jan. 22.

“Real Madrid would like to inform that our president Florentino Perez has tested positive in the COVID-19 tests that he periodically undergoes, although he is not showing any symptoms,” the club said in a brief statement.

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Perez, 73, has twice been elected Real Madrid president, first from 2000 to 2006 and then again from 2009.

His latest spell has been one of the most successful in the club’s history, with four Champions League titles from 2014 to 2018, three of those won consecutively under Zidane.

Zidane was absent for Madrid’s last two La Liga matches, a 4-1 win at Alaves, and Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat to Levante.

Assistant David Bettoni deputised on the bench, although Zidane was in regular contact with his coaching team via telephone.

Zidane’s position as Real Madrid coach has come under scrutiny in recent weeks after they were eliminated from the Spanish Supercopa by Athletic Bilbao and the Copa del Rey by third-tier Alcoyano.

They have also found themselves 10 points behind leaders and local rivals Atletico in the La Liga table.

The city of Madrid continues to see a significant number of COVID-19 cases, with 984 confirmed in the region in the last 14 days, and a series of social distancing restrictions are in place, including an overnight curfew from 10 p.m.

In January, Raul Gonzalez, the former Real Madrid player and now coach of B team Castilla, had to self-isolate after testing positive, as did first-team defender Nacho on Jan. 25.

Eden Hazard and Casemiro also tested positive earlier this season.

In March 2020, the former Real Madrid president Lorenzo Sanz — who led the club from 1995 to 2000, winning the Champions League twice — died due to coronavirus aged 76.

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