SPAIN: The Spanish national team coach Julen Lopetegui is sacked just two days before their opening World Cup game against Portugal in Sochi, with director of football Fernando Hierro named as his replacement.
The president of the Spanish Football Federation, Luis Rubiales, insisted that he had little choice but terminate Lopetegui’s contract as a matter of principle after the coach negotiated with Real Madrid behind their back. The sacking comes in response to the news, released on Tuesday afternoon, that Lopetegui had agreed to take over at Real Madrid when the World Cup ends.
That came as a huge surprise across Spain – including at the Federation. Neither the players nor Hierro nor the president knew of the decision until moments before it was made public. Rubiales said that he had received a phone call from Madrid five minutes before they issued a statement announcing the appointment.
“We are in an extremely difficult situation; this is very, very hard,” Rubiales said.
He said that there no negotiation with Real Madrid and that his request that the announcement be delayed was ignored and the deal made public before he could respond. He attempted to contact Lopetegui to speak to him but was unable to do so as the coach was informing the players. Madrid released the statement “five minutes” later, he said.
“The national team belongs to everyone and we have to send a clear message to all employees at the federation that there is a way of behaving, that there are ethics,” he said. “Julen has worked phenomenally well; I have nothing at all to complain about there. But the way that this has happened obliged me to take this decision. This is a very hard day and now we have decisions to make just two days before the World Cup starts.”
Spanish World Cup Team:
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