Spain fired national team coach Julen Lopetegui a mere two days before the team faces off against Portugal for their opening match at the World Cup, according to the Washington Post. Lopetegui was allegedly fired because he accepted a job to lead Real Madrid next season.
Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales announced the decision to let Lopetegui go Wednesday. Shortly after, Rubiales also announced that Fernando Hierro would replace Lopetegui as coach for Spain’s match against Portugal in Sochi on Friday, the Washington Post reports.
Rubiales said firing Lopetegui wasn’t the best solution but it was “needed after the federation was caught by surprise by Real Madrid’s announcement.”
”The federation cannot be left out of a negotiation by one of its workers and be informed five minutes before the press release,” Rubiales said, according to Fox Sports. ”We have been compelled to act.”
GettyPresident of the Spanish Football Federation, Luis Rubiales, attends a press conference at Krasnodar Academy on June 13, 2018, ahead of the Russia 2018 World Cup football tournament. – Spain sacked coach Lopetegui just two days before the team’s opening game against Portugal at the World Cup, Spanish football federation chief Luis Rubiales confirmed on June 13, 2018. In a surprise announcement on June 12, Real Madrid named Lopetegui as their next manager to start work after the tournament in Russia, sparking outrage among the federation and Spanish fans at the timing of the announcement. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP) (Photo credit should read PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP/Getty Images)
“It’s a difficult situation, but we are not the ones who determined the action that had to be taken. The federation has its values and it has to maintain them,” Rubiales said. ”It may look like a weakness now, but with time this will make us stronger.”
Lopetegui did not attend the news conference but was expected to talk to the media later, Fox Sports reported.
“I admire and respect Lopetegui a lot. He is a top coach, and that made it harder to make this decision,” Rubiales said. “Winning is important, but above that, we need to know how things have to be handled.”
After Madrid’s announced that the team hired Lopetegui, people immediately began questioning Lopetegui’s decisions with the national team, specifically regarding his decisions to leave our some of Barcelona’s top players (like Sergi Roberto) for the World Cup squad. Critics also questions how Lopetegui would be able to give Spain his full focus while also “have to discuss off-season signings for his new club,” the Washington Post reports. The fact that there are six Madrid players in Spain’s team for the World Cup also raised eyebrows.
Hierro, who will be taking over for Lopetegui, spent most of his career as a defender for Real Madrid before retiring with the English club Bolton in 2005. He played in four World Cups with Spain, from 1990 to 2002, and in two European Championships, 1996 and 2000.
He coached second-division club Real Oviedo two seasons ago and was Malaga’s general manager after leaving his sports …read more