Spain coach Julen Lopetegui fired just a day before World Cup kicks off
Spain sacked coach Julen Lopetegui just two days before the team's opening game against Portugal at the World Cup, Spanish football federation chief Luis Rubiales confirmed on Wednesday.
In a surprise announcement on Tuesday, 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.
"We have been forced to dispense with the national coach. We wish you the greatest of luck. What you get…will have to do with the work you've developed," said Spanish football chief Rubiales at the press conference.
"I have spoken with the players, and I can guarantee that they will do everything they can with the new coaching staff, we are in a very difficult situation."
No decision has yet been made over who will take charge with Spain due to face European champions Portugal in Sochi on Friday.
Ahead of the World Cup, Lopetegui extended his contract as Spain coach until 2020 in what was a pre-World Cup boost for one of the tournament favourites.
And it comes just three days before the 2010 World Cup winners begin their campaign in Russia, as they face Portugal in Sochi on Friday.
Lopetegui was appointed to the role in the wake of Spain's poor showing at Euro 2016 in France when they were eliminated in the last 16, losing 2-0 to Italy.
Rubiales also revealed that the Spanish FA will receive the payment of the rescission clause so that the current coach can sign for Real Madrid.
The RFEF requests the maximum respect to maintain the normality in the concentration of the national team at the doors of our debut in the tournament against Portugal.
"I have spoken with the players, and I can guarantee that they will do everything they can with the new coaching staff, we are in a very difficult situation.
"I do not feel betrayed because Julen has done a relentless job, but we are forced to move on this because of how things have been done," Rubiales continued.
"He is a professional, but this is not correct and we can't look the other way.
"You can't do things like that, five minutes before it's official.
"I came from Moscow because this issue is more important, and we had to react.
"I saw it in the press, it had already happened, and because of my responsibility, I know that whatever I do, there will be criticism.