Spanish national team coach Julien Lopetegui has been dismissed by the Football Association with just forty eight hours to the team’s World Cup opening game against Portugal in Sochi.
Lopetegui was named as the new Real Madrid manager on Tuesday; a decision which has left Federation officials baffled as they claim they were unaware of the move by their national team handler to speak to other potential employers.
Spanish FA president, Luis Rubiales, was supposed to be at FIFA’s congress in the Russian capital Moscow on Wednesday but flew to Spain’s training base late on Tuesday night to deal with the lingering issue.
Rubiales at a news conference on Wednesday then confirmed the decision to sever ties with the former FC Porto manager.
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“We have been forced to dispense with the national coach. We wish him the greatest of luck,” Rubiales told reporters.
“The negotiations have occurred without any information to the Spanish FA and we were informed just five minutes before the press release. There’s a way to act that needs to be fulfilled,” he added.
Former Real Madrid star Fernando Hierro who is currently the Football Association’s Director of Football as well as current Spain Under-21 coach Albert Celades, who is one of Lopetegui’s assistant coaches in Russia are favourites to take over the head coach job in the meantime.
When asked who would be taking over, Rubiales added:
“We are going to touch as little as possible. We are working on it. When we know we will tell you. I have spoken with the players and I can guarantee they will do everything, along with the new coach, to take the team as far as possible.”
The news of Lopetegui’s dismissal will serve as a blow to many Spanish football fans who have been hoping the team would banish the memories of a forgettable World Cup campaign in 2014.