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Julen Lopetegui: Spain coach sacked two days to World Cup opener

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Spain’s head coach Julen Lopetegui has been sacked after he was appointed the new manager for Real Madrid manager, the country’s football federation (RFEF) has announced.

Real Madrid on Tuesday named Lopetegui to succeed Zinedine Zidane at the Bernabeu on a three-year deal. The RFEF said it had dismissed the 51-year-old because the negotiation took place on their blind side “without any information to the RFEF”.

In his place, the 2010 World Cup winners will be led into this year’s tournament by sporting director Fernando Hierro with just two days before their opening match with Portugal. The tournament starts on Thursday in Russia.

The former Real Madrid and Bolton Wanderers defender is in his second spell as sporting director, having returned to the role in November 2017, six years after leaving the position.

RFEF president Luis Rubiales, who was informed of Lopetegui’s new role with Real only five minutes before it was announced, said he had found himself in “a very difficult situation”.

“I know there’s going to be criticism whatever I do,” he added.

“I’m sure this will, in time, make us stronger. I admire Julen very much, I respect him very much. He seems a top trainer and that makes it harder to make the decision.

“You can’t do things this way, two or three days before the World Cup. We have been compelled to make this decision.”

Lopetegui became Spain manager in 2016 following Vicente del Bosque’s retirement, and remained unbeaten through his reign.

He’s won 14 of 20 games with Spain, drawing the remaining six.

Spanish media reports say, Rubiales was incensed when he discovered Lopetegui had agreed a deal to take over the helms at Real Madrid.

He’s reported to have left the FIFA Congress meeting in Moscow early in order to return to Spain’s camp in Krasnodar to deal with the situation.

There are claims that some senior players – including captain Sergio Ramos – wanted Lopetegui to remain in charge for the duration of the World Cup but that was not agreed by the federation.

Spain begin their World Cup campaign against Portugal on Friday in a match.

Julen Lopetegui: Spain coach sacked two days to World Cup opener

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