Spain’s World Cup preparations have been plunged into chaos with the news that Julen Lopetegui has been dismissed as head coach. Lopetegui has sensationally been sacked just two days before their opening match at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Lopetegui was let go a day after Real Madrid announced him as their new manager beginning after the World Cup.
Federation president Luis Rubiales says it wasn’t the best solution for the national team but the action was needed after Madrid’s surprise announcement Tuesday. A replacement was not immediately announced.
LEFT WITH NO OPTION
Rubiales claimed he was left with little option after Lopetegui was named as the next head coach of Real Madrid, claiming those discussions took place without the RFEF’s knowledge and that he only found out minutes before Los Blancos made their official announcement.
“We have been forced to dispense with the coach, remembering all the good things he has given us,” he told reporters.
“The RFEF, the national team, is the team of every Spaniard and there are decisions that have to be taken. There has to be a clear message.
“Real Madrid look for a coach and look for the best. I won’t judge a club on how they act but, until a few minutes before, we were kept in the dark. That can’t be ignored.
Former Spain coach Julen Lopetegui during training in Russia on July 11, 2018. (REUTERS)
“I found out [about the deal with Madrid] five minutes beforehand and asked for nothing to be done, that I was getting a plane and coming here.
“But, after five minutes, I saw it in the press and we had to react. We have a responsibility. I know there will be criticism but the values of the RFEF are set by the RFEF itself.”
Rubiales refused to comment on Lopetegui’s possible replacement but did stress they would endeavour to affect the squad “as little as possible”.
Spain sporting director Fernando Hierro and Under-21 coach Albert Celades have been tipped to take over for at least the World Cup.
The planned media conference on Wednesday was delayed by more than an hour while Rubiales reportedly held last-minute talks with Lopetegui.
Julen Lopetegui (C) attends a training session in Krasnodar Academy on June 11, 2018, ahead of the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup football tournament. (AFP)
There were also rumours the team’s senior players had called for the former Porto coach to stay in charge for the tournament.
Rubiales, though, insists the squad is entirely focused on Friday’s match against Portugal in Sochi.
“All this is a big blow, but we are training again later today, we will stay together and move forward,” he said.
“The players are very focused and they have told me they are fully committed and will give 100 per cent.”