Spain SACK Julen Lopetegui on eve of World Cup, Fernando Hierro to take charge
Spain’s World Cup campaign is already in disarray after manager Julen Lopetegui was sacked – just two days before their opening clash with Portugal.
A news conference was hastily arranged in the wake of Real Madrid’s announcement that Lopetegui would succeed Zinedine Zidane at the Bernabeu next season.
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Spanish football federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales was reportedly left seething at the news, prompting him to fire the 51-year-old.
The chaos continued when it was reported U21 boss Albert Celades would take charge of the sinking ship in Russia, only for RFEF director of football Fernando Hierro, a former Real defender, to be officially named as manager an hour later.
Lopetegui, who took over as Spain boss in 2016, only recently signed a contract extension with the 2010 world champions. He was unbeaten in his 20 matches in charge, winning 14 and drawing six.
Spain and Portugal are joined by Iran and Morocco in Group B.
WHAT RFEF PRESIDENT LUIS RUBIALES SAID
"We want to thank Julen for all he's done and he's a big reason behind us being in Russia, but we feel obliged to dispense with his services," said Rubiales.
"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.
"There has to be a message to all RFEF employees and there are ways of behaving that you need to abide by."
Julen Lopetegui, Spain campGetty Images
WHAT JULEN LOPETEGUI SAID
WHAT HAS THE MEDIA REACTION BEEN?
Anger and ethics at heart of Spain’s decision to sack Julen Lopetegui - Sid Lowe, the Guardian
“Spain’s chances of winning the World Cup look dramatically diminished – and so does the federation. But perhaps that was already true and while they have lost much, including perhaps the tactical nuance and variations Lopetegui has introduced, this is a group of players who can still compete and have a certain capacity for self-management,” added Lowe.
'It is about values, gentlemen' - Carlos Matallanas, as.com
Lopetegui has proven he can follow in the footsteps of a legend - Euan McTear, MARCA
"It's the coach who already has experience of frictionlessly replacing a legend.
"It's Julen Lopetegui."
HOW HAVE THE PLAYERS REACTED?
"We are the national team, we represent the badge, the colours, a country. Responsibility and commitment are with you and for you. Yesterday, today and tomorrow, together," Real Madrid and Spain captain Sergio Ramos.
"University of Michigan. Basketball. 1989. NCAA Champion. It wouldn't be the first time it happened. All together, now more than ever," Pique added on Twitter.
David de Gea: Togetherness makes us stronger.