Krasnodar (Russia): Spain head coach Julen Lopetegui was fired on Wednesday, two days before their first match in the 2018 FIFA World Cup after Real Madrid announced that he will take charge of the record European club football champions next season.
Spain named federation sporting director Fernando Hierro as its World Cup coach. "Fernando Hierro will assume coaching responsibilities at the World Cup in Russia," the Spanish football federation announced.
Julen Lopetegui, whose signing for Real Madrid was announced on the club's website on Tuesday, had been at the helm of the Spanish national squad since 2016, and remained unbeaten in 20 games, reports Efe.
Spanish football association RFEF president Luis Rubiales said in a shock presser that he had lost confidence in Lopetegui after learning about the news five minutes before it was made public by La Liga powerhouse Real Madrid.
"We have been forced to break our agreement. The Spain team is the team of all the Spaniards, you can not do things this way, 2-3 days before the World Cup. We have been forced to make this decision with Julen Lopetegui, who has done an impeccable job," Rubiales said.
"But we cannot accept this behaviour. This has been done without our knowledge. I do not feel betrayed. But this is how it must be."
Spain are in Group B of the World Cup, alongside Portugal, Iran and Morocco. Spain will begin their campaign against Portugal on Friday.
The line-up, which features the likes of Diego Costa, Sergio Ramos, Andrés Iniesta and Gerard Piqué, is one of the hot favourites to
walk away with the trophy at the end of the campaign in
Russia. But the current situation will mar their campaign. Rubiales hoped that the national squad will overcome the difficulty.