Spain sack Lopetegui on eve of World Cup

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Spain have sacked their head coach Julen Lopetegui only two days before the start of the World Cup due to his appointment as new Real Madrid boss.

President of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) Luis Rubiales confirmed the news in Krasnodar on Wednesday, shortly after Real Madrid announced that Lopetegui would take over the post that Zinedine Zidane vacated after winning the UEFA Champions League.

Rubiales insists there was no other option but to part ways with Lopetegui, who has never lost in 20 games in charge of La Roya, because of the way Real Madrid handled the appointment without consulting or informing the RFEF.

“We have been forced to dispense with the coach, remembering all the good things he has given us,” Rubiales 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.

“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’s going to be criticism whatever I do,” Rubiales added.

“I’m sure this will, in time, make us stronger. I admire Julen very much, I respect him very much. He seems a top trainer and that makes it harder to make the decision.

“You can’t do things this way, two or three days before the World Cup. We have been compelled to make this decision.”

Spain sporting director Fernando Hierro will now take charge for the World Cup.

The former Real Madrid defender is in his second spell as sporting director, having returned to the role in November 2017, six years after leaving the position.