Julen Lopetegui has been sacked as Spain boss on the eve of the World Cup after Spanish FA chiefs were left furious following his announcement as Real Madrid boss.
Spain hastily called a press conference as reports emanated that the head of the Spanish FA, Luis Rubiales, was left outraged by the timing of the announcement.
Following a bizarre morning, during which the Spanish players pleaded with Rubiales for Lopetegui to keep his job, it was decided that the manager’s position had become untenable.
Fernando Hierro, a former Real Madrid player himself, has been confirmed as Lopetegui’s successor for the duration of the tournament. They kick off their bid for glory with a tough opening match against Portugal on Friday night.
‘We thank Julen for all he has done because he is one of the great people responsible for us being in Russia, but we are forced to dismiss him,’ said Rubiales during Wednesday’s press conference.
‘I do not feel betrayed; the problem is how things have been done with the total absence of participation of the Spanish Football Federation; that is something we cannot ignore. Lopetegui is an impeccable professional but the process is important.
‘The negotiations [between Lopetegui and Real Madrid] have occurred without any information to the Spanish FA and we were informed just five minutes before the press release. There’s a way to act that needs to be fulfilled.
‘I took a plane, came back from Moscow, missed the vote on the next World Cup to be here. We had to react, I know that whatever I do, I will be criticised, I accept that.
‘To win is very important, to have the best coach very important, but above everything is acting in the right way. Maybe this is tough now, but in the end it will make us stronger.
‘I have spoken with the players and I can guarantee they will do everything, along with the new coach, to take the team as far as possible [at this World Cup].’