Julen Lopetegui has been sacked as Spain manager two days to their first game and on the eve of the World Cup after leaving the Spanish FA furious after accepting the Real Madrid job.
Lopetegui had penned a new contract to 2020 just weeks ago on May 22, but the lure of succeeding Zinedine Zidane proved too much.
The news comes 48 hours before Spain’s opening Group B fixture vs Portugal, with Under-21 boss Albert Celades stepping in to replace Lopetegui, who will not speak to the media until he returns to Spain.
RFEF president Luis Rubiales was said to be “furious” and “deeply upset” after Los Blancos confirmed Lopetegui as their new boss and confirmed Lopetegui’s departure.
RFEF President Luis Rubiales (far left) stands next to Real Madrid president Florentino Perez at the Champions League final last month
“We have been forced to break our agreement with Julen Lopetegui,” said the RFEF chief.
“We have to decided to fire the national coach [Lopetegui]. What we have achieved in getting here is due in great part to him, and we must thank him and wish him luck.
There is a way that you must act, Julen has worked in a great way with the team, but we cannot accept how he has acted in this case.
“The Spanish national team is the team of all the Spaniards. We only found out just five minutes before that he was leaving for Madrid.”
“To win is very important, to have the best coach very important, but above everything is acting in the right way. Maybe this is tough now, but in the end it will make us stronger.
“I took a plane, came back from Moscow, missed the vote on the next World Cup to be here. We had to react, I know that whatever I do I will be criticised, I accept that.”
It was thought that senior players Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique had moved to prevent Rubiales from taking the decision to fire Lopetegui.
“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 [at this World Cup],” Rubiales added.
The reasoning behind the drastic action is that it was feared the news could unsettle the team unity, with the clear preference for the news to not be leaked until Spain’s involvement had finished.
Rubiales insisted there is no plan in place yet to announce a replacement, but that they would change as little as possible.
“We are going to touch as little as possible,” Rubiales added. “We are working on it. When we know we will tell you.”