Zinedine Zidane interrupted his hunt for a top job to give the glowing reference that secured his former Real Madrid assistant a first head coaching role in Switzerland.

David Bettoni has been appointed boss of Sion, the club where Mario Balotelli plays, and that may mean Zidane will be looking for a new second-in-command when he returns to football.

Zidane recently has made no secret of his eagerness to get back into work, having walked away from the Madrid hotseat after the 2020-21 season.

A post with a big club likely awaits the France great, while Bettoni begins his life as a head coach with a ringing endorsement from his friend and former boss.

Bettoni has been appointed on a short-term basis initially, taking the job until the end of the season.

Sion president Christian Constantin told newspaper Le Matin he spent over an hour on the telephone with Zidane, joking that was more than former French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet was willing to give of his time.

Le Graet caused uproar in France at the start of the year when he said he would not even have answered his phone to Zidane if he had called to enquire about the France job. That was after Zidane saw his hopes of being made boss of Les Bleus scuppered by Didier Deschamps signing up for another World Cup cycle.

Constantin said of his chat with Zidane: "It made me very happy to be able to talk about football with him for an hour and a quarter. He had a much better reception with me than with Le Graet!

"He told me how loyal David had been to him, that he had never sought to find fault with him in his mission. Without him, he told me again, I would never have succeeded in doing what I achieved at Real during all his years."

Sion sit ninth in the 10-team Swiss Super League and have not won a game in the competition since October.

Bettoni, who first got to know Zidane when they were teenagers at Cannes, initially joined Madrid when Zidane was in charge of the youth side, before stepping up and helping his compatriot lead Los Blancos to three Champions League triumphs.

Mario Balotelli has been promised the full support of FC Sion after a video of the Italian striker on a night out went viral on social media.

The footage, said to have been filmed on Saturday in Lausanne, shows Balotelli walking through the street, reportedly in a nightclub district.

He appears to have a woman on one side of him and a man on his right side, and it has been suggested they were propping him up.

Balotelli has not commented on suggestions he may have been drunk, but Sion are adamant that in any case the club did not object to players going out to celebrate that day's victory over St Gallen.

The club said they "learned with astonishment" of articles carrying the video and suggesting Balotelli had stopped communicating with the club.

Instead, Sion stressed Balotelli had been ill this week with bronchitis and seen by club medics, with the sickness explaining his absence from training.

"Following the great victory last week, a large part of the team went to the Vaud capital [Lausanne] to celebrate this success," Sion's statement said.

"This week, Mario Balotelli suffered from the onset of bronchitis and was directly supervised by the club's medical service who prescribed him antibiotics.

"Not having been able to train during the week, Mario Balotelli will not be travelling to Rapperswil tomorrow for the second round of the Coupe Suisse. On the other hand, he will do individual training during the weekend with our physical trainer.

"FC Sion regrets that this video has taken on unnecessary and disproportionate proportions, which harm the image of our striker.

"The club takes advantage here to recall that it is very happy with the current performance of the team since the arrival of Mario Balotelli in Valais."

Former Italy international Balotelli, 32, joined Sion at the end of August after a spell in Turkey with Adana Demirspor.

His previous clubs include Inter, Manchester City, Milan, Liverpool, Marseille and Nice.

Sion president Christian Constantin, a former professional footballer, told Swiss newspaper Blick this week he had no issue with Balotelli enjoying a night out after a win for the team.

Constantin said: “Mario still has a lot of work to do. We all know that. But you can also celebrate a win. We used to do that too. We also took a glass or two afterwards. The boys are allowed to do that nowadays. No question."

Former Italy striker Mario Balotelli has joined Swiss club Sion on a two-year deal.

The 32-year-old spent last season with Adana Demirspor after leaving Monza, scoring 18 Turkish Super Lig goals

Much-travelled frontman Balotelli will be able to tick off another country he has played club football in, having sealed a move to Sion on Wednesday.

Sion sporting director Barthelemy Constantin said: "Mario Balotelli will bring us a lot offensively since he comes out of a full season and arrives with us with confidence. 

"He is the kind of striker we needed, with great determination. It is an honour to have him with us."

The former Inter, Manchester City and Milan man had been linked with a move to LaLiga club Valencia.

Sion are sixth in the Swiss Super League with eight points from six matches.



Sion are in talks with Mario Balotelli, according to the Swiss club's president.

Former Inter, Manchester City, Liverpool and Milan forward Balotelli spent last season in Turkey with Adana Demirspor.

The Italy international scored 18 Turkish Super Lig goals as the team finished ninth, with only Kasimpasa's Umut Bozok managing more strikes in the competition (20).

That tally included a stunning five-goal haul on the final day against Goztepe, making top-flight history for Adana Demirspor in the process.

Balotelli is under contract until 2024, though the 31-year-old seems to be pushing for a move away, having suggested he could move to LaLiga, with Valencia said to be interested.

However, Sion's president Christian Constantin has confirmed his team are in discussions with the player.

In an interview with the Swiss-German publication Blick, Constantin said: "It's true. We've been in talks for weeks.

"Today it is impossible for me to make a forecast about the chances of success of the transfer.

"We wanted to remain discreet, but the information apparently leaked in Italy. This is a signal that there is interest on both sides."


Signing Balotelli would represent a coup for Sion, who will be looking to improve on a seventh-place finish last season, with their Swiss Super League campaign starting on Sunday.

"If you only talk about talent, Mario had what it takes to win the Ballon d'Or," Constantin added.

Constantin also revealed Sion were interested in signing Balotelli back in 2016, before the forward moved to Nice.

"The first time we spoke to [Balotelli's former agent] Mino [Raiola] about Mario was in 2016, before he signed in Nice," Constantin added.

The president's son Barthelemy, Sion's sporting director, added: "We've been in contact with his agents for a long time and have a good relationship. We've done a few deals together in the past."

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