Spain have taken the unprecedented decision to sack their head coach Julen Lopetegui just one day before the start of the 2018 World Cup.
Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales, who has only been in the job for a month or so, announced on Wednesday morning that his organisation have been “forced” to dismiss Lopetegui after he agreed to take over at Real Madrid this week without informing them beforehand.
Lopetegui signed a contract extension with the RFEF in May to remain Spain coach until 2020 – one of Rubiales’ first decisions upon taking the president’s job.
Speaking at a hastily-arranged press conference, Rubiales informed the waiting world of Lopetegui’s dismissal:
It’s the Spanish team. You cannot 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.
I know it’s a very difficult situation. I know there’s going to be criticism whatever I do.
I’m sure this will, in time, make us stronger.
Plenty of names have already been mentioned in passing when it comes to filling the void, but the prospect of taking charge of a World Cup favourite a little over two days before their opening match against rivals Portugal will no doubt thin the interested herd a little.
It’s purely speculative at this point, but names such as Arsene Wenger and Zinedine Zidane have all been bandied about, as well as Fernando Hierro and Real Betis coach Quique Setien.
We shall see, although we’re all in favour of this…
✈️ to Moscow ⚽️🏆🌍
— Carles Puyol (@Carles5puyol) June 13, 2018
Blimey O’Riley. You can always count on La Roja to provide the amateur dramatics!