Spain have confirmed the sacking of their football team manager Julen Lopetegui just 24 hours before the start of the World Cup 2018 in Russia.
The Spanish Football Federation confirmed the sacking of Lopetegui, who is due to take over at Real Madrid next month, on Wednesday, just two days before the team’s opening World Cup game against Portugal.
At a press conference, Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) President Luis Rubiales said the federation was “forced” to sack Lopetegui after it found out about his appointment five minutes before the announcement was made.
“We have been forced to dispense with the national coach. We wish you the greatest of luck,” said Rubiales.
“The negotiation has occurred without any information to the RFEF. Just five minutes before the press release. There’s a way to act that needs to be fulfilled. It’s the Spanish team. You can not do things this way.
“I admire Julen a lot, I respect him a lot, I think he’s a top trainer and that makes it more difficult to make the decision. I don’t feel betrayed. Lopetegui, while he’s been with us, has done impeccable work.
Lopetegui’s replacement would be announced “soon”, added Rubiales.
Fifty-one year old Lopetegui is due to take over at European Champions Real Madrid next month after Zinedine Zidane, who led the Spanish club to three successive Champions League titles, stepped down last month.
Spain, one of the pre-tournament favourites, also face Morocco and Iran in their group in Russia.