Julen Lopetegui has been sacked as Spain national coach on the eve of the World Cup, one day after agreeing to take over at Real Madrid.
Madrid had been looking for a replacement since Zinedine Zidane stepped down last month, just days after winning a third consecutive Champions League trophy.
In a news conference, Spanish FA (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales said it was a complicated situation but one that he felt “compelled” to make. Read also Egypt’s Mohamed Salah dribbles for first time since injuring shoulder
“I very much admire Julen and respect him greatly,” Rubiales said. “He seems to be a top coach and that has made it more difficult to make this decision.
“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.”
After guiding Spain easily through qualification to the World Cup finals, Lopetegui had agreed a new contract up until Euro 2020 in May.
But just three days before Spain’s Group B opener against Portugal in Sochi, Russia, Madrid announced on Tuesday afternoon that they had convinced him to leave that position after the tournament is over to take up a three-year deal with the La Liga giants.
“The federation cannot be left outside the negotiation of one of its employees and find out just five minutes before a public announcement,” Rubiales said. “If anybody wants to talk to one of our employees, they have to speak to us, too. That is basic, as this is the team of all Spaniards. The national team is the most important team we have and the World Cup is the biggest [competition] of all.”
Rubiales and Lopetegui were set to give a news conference from the national team’s camp in Krasnodar early on Wednesday morning. Ex-Spain and Madrid defender Fernando Hierro is also with the team in Russia as sporting director and could step in as coach if Lopetegui were to leave immediately. Read also https://www.express.co.uk/sport/football/973630/England-World-Cup-Repino-training