Julen Lopetegui has been sacked as Spain coach just two days before the nation’s opening game at the 2018 World Cup.
Real Madrid announced on Tuesday that Lopetegui, who had only recently extended his contract with Spain, would take over as their coach next season.
The Spanish football federation (RFEF) then said that Lopetegui would leave his job with Spain after the World Cup, and announced a news conference would be held on Wednesday morning at the team’s World Cup base in Krasnodar.
Multiple media reports on Wednesday said that RFEF president Luis Rubiales was so angry at Lopetegui’s conduct that he was prepared to fire him immediately.
Spain have now terminated the contract of the coach, who led them on a 20-game unbeaten streak since taking over following Euro 2016.
At Wednesday’s extraordinary press conference, Rubiales told reporters that the RFEF only found out Lopetegui would be taking over at the Bernabeu five minutes before Real Madrid confirmed his appointment.
Rubiales also confirmed that Spain have not lined up a successor to Lopetegui yet, just two days before La Roja open their World Cup account against Euro 2016 winners Portugal.
Here’s the Spanish FA president and former Hamilton Academical defender Luis Rubiales explaining the decision
“We have to decided to fire the national coach. What we have achieved in getting here is due in great part to him, and we must thank him and wish him luck. The Spanish national team is the team of all the Spaniards. We only found out just five minutes before the announcement that he was leaving for Madrid. There is a way that you must act. Julen has worked in a great way with the team, but we cannot accept how he has acted in this case.”
The Spanish football federation (RFEF) said it had dismissed the 51-year-old because the negotiation occurred “without any information to the RFEF”.
The World Cup in Russia starts on Thursday.
“I know it’s a very difficult situation. I know there’s going to be criticism whatever I do,” RFEF president Luis Rubiales said.
“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.”
Asked who would be taking over, he added: “We are going to touch as little as possible. We are working on it. When we know we will tell you. “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. 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.