Monday, 24 September, 2018

Spain sack manager Julen Lopetegui two days before first match

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Sidney Guerrero | 13 June, 2018, 23:12

Spain have sacked head coach Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the World Cup and just days after he was named as the new boss at Real Madrid.

The RFEF did not specify whether Hierro may continue in the role beyond the finals in Russian Federation.

A planned press conference with Rubiales and Lopetegui at Spain's World Cup base in Krasnodar was delayed an hour to 0930 GMT on Wednesday.

Former Real Madrid star Hierro has been working in the Spanish national team set-up since his appointment as sporting director last November, with the move to appoint him as Lopetegui's replacement created to dilute the confusion around the squad. "We wish him the best, he has done an excellent job in getting us to the tournament".

Rubiales, the former head of Spain's players union who was elected as federation president last month, said he was forced to fire Lopetegui because he had been left in the dark by his coach and by Madrid.

"If anyone wants to talk to one of our employees, they have to speak to us, too".

He has been in charge of "La Roja" since 2016, and has guided them to the World Cup after coming out top in a hard group that also featured Italy.

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- Make your picks with ESPN FC Match Predictor 2018! The replacement could be sporting director, Fernando Hierro or Albert Celades, the current under-21 manager.

To think, Spain play their opening game against Portugal. We will touch the staff as little as possible, as soon as we have something to communicate, we will do it. We are working on it.

"I saw it in the press, it had already happened, and because of my responsibility, I know that whatever I do, there will be criticism". I trust a lot in the talent and mentality of this team and I am sure that they can go far and fight for the title.

The Spanish Football Association president, Luis Rubiales, was said to be fuming after the announcement only learning about it 15 minutes before Real made it public.

And he may hold his first press conference at 5.30pm BST, while the first game of the World Cup between Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia is still being played.

"I've been at all the training sessions, in the day-to-day we've been present and I can't change anything in these two days". Rubiales said that although the federation's financial situation was not ideal, money was "not the most important thing in a moment like this. We have been compelled to make this decision". I have a very close relationship with the players, as with Julen, it's a very complex situation, the most complex one I could find.

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