Spain has sacked coach Julen Lopetegui a day before the World Cup starts, after it emerged he will be appointed as the new Real Madrid coach after the tournament.
According to a statement from Real Madrid’s website, ‘Julen Lopetegui will be the Real Madrid coach after the celebration of the 2018 World Cup.
‘Real Madrid C. F. announce that Julen Lopetegui will be the coach of the first team during the next three seasons.
‘Julen Lopetegui will join the club after Spain’s participation in the World Cup, after two years leading the national team.’
The Spanish FA and its president Luis Rubiales are furious at the news coming out this close to the tournament starting and the latter flew to Spain’s Krasnodar WC base and organised a press conference for Wednesday morning.
At the press conference it has been revealed that Lopetegui has been sacked.
Spanish newspaper SPORT branded the Real appointment, which came just 48 hours before the World Cup begins, as ‘reprehensible’.
‘The consequences of it can be disastrous for the Spanish team,’ wrote Lluis Miguelsanz.
‘What is clear is that Lopetegui has been negotiating his future as the new Los Blancos coach while preparing for the World Cup, something that is ethically already reprehensible.’
Real Madrid mouthpiece publication Marca, however, wrote: ‘That it was not the ideal moment is evident … but it is also true that circumstances have determined this outcome…
…With the professionalism and commitment of all, the squad should not be affected.’
Spain’s sporting director Fernando Hierro and Spanish Under-21 coach Albert Celades would be the two likely options to step in.
Los Rojos are one of the tournament favourites after Lopetegui turned around the burned out squad of a few years ago and reinvigorated them, bringing a squad to Russia that many think could win the Jules Rimet.
Spain open their World Cup campaign on Friday against Portugal in Sochi.