Spain Fire Coach, Julen Lopetegui 48 Hours Before World Cup Debut
Spain's Under-2121 manager Albert Celades may replace Lopetegui
Spain football Federation (RFEF) fired their coach Julen Lopetegui on Wednesday two days before their opening World Cup match against Portugal.
His dismissal came after Real Madrid surprisingly announced on Tuesday that Lopetegui, who had only recently extended his contract with the national team, would take over next season at Santiago Bernabeu.
‘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 head of RFEF, Luis Rubiales.
‘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.
“Real Madrid look for the best coach, that is fine by me. I have no opinion about how Real Madrid act. But the federation have an obligation, to represent all Spaniards.
‘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].’
Fernando Hierro, a former Real Madrid player himself and current sporting director of the Spanish FA, is understood to be an early frontrunner to succeed Lopetegui.
Spain’s Under-2121 manager Albert Celades will replace sacked manager Julen Lopetegui in the dugout for their first World Cup match against Portugal on Friday, according to reports in Spain.
Spain face Portugal on Friday, and will face Iran and Morocco in Group B.