Spain Sack Lopetegui On Eve Of World Cup

Hierro Takes Temporary Charge

Julen Lopetegui Real Madrid
Image: Cyril Venediktov

Spain have sacked Julen Lopetegui as their national team coach. The news comes less than 24 hours after the 51-year-old was appointed manager of Real Madrid.

Lopetegui signed a new deal with the Spanish FA – the RFEF – on 22 May. But speaking to reporters today RFEF chief Luis Rubiales announced that he has since been dismissed and that Fernando Hierro will coach the team in Russia.

“We thank Julen for all he has done because he is one of the great people responsible for us being in Russia, but we have been forced to dismiss him,” said Rubiales.

“There must be a clear message for all the workers of the Spanish Federation that there are some forms of act that must be fulfilled “.

Rubiales then accused Real Madrid of going behind the federation’s back to land Lopetegui.

“I do not feel betrayed, the problem is how things have been done with the total absence of any participation from the Spanish Football Federation. that is something we can not ignore, Lopetegui is an impeccable professional but the forms are important”.

The news cannot have come at a worse time for the Spanish side. They take on Portugal on Friday in their opening group fixture.

Lopetegui had been in charge of the side since Vicente del Bosque’s retirement after Euro 2016. The team are currently on a run of 20 games without defeat but they face their toughest task in the group stages with a match against the European champions in Sochi. Morocco and Iran are also in a group from which Spain are expected to progress.

Lopetegui had been expected to take over at Real Madrid after the World Cup had ended. He has signed a three-year deal at the Bernabeu succeeding Zinedine Zidane who quit as first-team coach just under two weeks ago.