The Spanish Football Association, RFEF, on Wednesday, sacked their national team coach, Julen Lopetegui, less than 48 hours to their first Group B game against Portugal at the 2018 World Cup.
The sack comes after Lopetegui consented to replace Zinedine Zidane as coach of Real Madrid. The coach had reportedly agreed to a three-year contract, which was announced by the European Champions on Tuesday.
Lopetegui was sacked, despite having led the team to Russia.
Speaking at a press conference, Luis Rubiales, President of the RFEF, said while he respects Lopetegui for his achievement with the team, the federation cannot accept that its employee engaged in negotiations with another team without informing them.
He said, “We have decided to fire the national coach.
“What we have achieved in getting here is due in great part to him, and we must thank him and wish him luck.”
“But the federation cannot be left outside the negotiation of one of its employees, and find out just five minutes before a public announcement.
” If anybody wants to talk to one of our employees, they have to speak to us too, that is basic, as this is the team of all Spaniards. The national team is the most important we have, the World Cup is the biggest of all.”
On how the sudden dismissal of Lopetegui might affect the team’s morale, Rubiales said the players remained focused in achieving their aim of winning a second World Cup.
He said, “All this is a big blow, but we are training again later today, we will stay together and move forward,” he said.
“The players are very focused and they have told me they are fully committed and will give 100 per cent.”
The La Roja face their Iberian neighbours, Portugal, in their World Cup group game on Friday.