LONDON: Spanish Football Federation President Luis Rubiales said he had no choice but to sack Julen Lopetegui, replacing him with Fernando Hierro, after he agreed to join Real Madrid without informing the Federation.
The decision throws the team, one of the favorites to lift the trophy on July 15, into disarray just two days before their World Cup opener against arch-rivals Portugal.
To say this is not ideal preparation for both that match and the rest of the tournament is an understatement, but Rubiales insisted the federation was “forced” to take action.
”It’s the Spanish team. You cannot do things this way,” Rubiales said.
Rubiales said the situation was “very complicated” but believes the coaching staff will “do everything in their power” to help Spain succeed in Russia.
“I admire Julen a lot, I respect him a lot, I think he’s a top trainer and that makes it more difficult to make the decision,” said Rubiales.
“I don’t feel betrayed. Lopetegui, while he’s been with us, has done impeccable work.
“I know it’s a very difficult situation. I know there’s going to be criticism whatever I do.
“I’m sure this will, in time, make us stronger.”
The 50-year-old Hierro’s only real coaching experience came when he was in charge of second division Spanish outfit Oviedo for one season.