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FIFA World Cup 2018: Spain Sack Coach Days Before First Match, Hierro Named Replacement

Spain came into the 2018 FIFA World Cup as one of the top contenders for the big prize, but now have major issues that need addressing after the Spanish FA terminated the contract of coach Julen Lopetegui with immediate effect on the eve of the opening day of the showpiece event in Russia.

News18 Sports

Updated:June 14, 2018, 7:33 AM IST
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FIFA World Cup 2018: Spain Sack Coach Days Before First Match, Hierro Named Replacement
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Spain came into the 2018 FIFA World Cup as one of the top contenders for the big prize, but now have major issues that need addressing after the Spanish FA terminated the contract of coach Julen Lopetegui with immediate effect on the eve of the opening day of the showpiece event in Russia.

An angry Spanish FA's President Luis Rubiales announced in a press conference in Krasnodar that they were parting ways with Lopetegui, who took over the reins of the team after the Euro 2016 campaign helped Spain cruise through the qualification for the World Cup.

Interestingly Lopetegui was announced as the replacement for Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid on Tuesday, after he recently extended his contract with the national team till 2020.

Rubiales who left for the team base hours after Real Madrid had made their announcement explained his decision to the media saying, “We have to decided to fire the national coach. What we have achieved in getting here is due in great part to him, and we must thank him and wish him luck. The Spanish national team is the team of all the Spaniards. We only found out just five minutes before the announcement that he was leaving for Madrid. 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.”

"If anyone wants to talk to one of our employees, they have to speak to us, too. It's that basic. This is a Spain national team and it's the most important team we have and the World Cup is the biggest stage of them all."

"I don't feel betrayed, the problem is that things have been done with the complete absence of the RFEF, which is something we cannot let go by."

"We want to thank Julen for all he's done and he's a big reason behind us being in Russia, but we feel obliged to dispense with his services," the Spanish FA President added.

In his time with the Spanish national team Lopetegui coached them in 20 matches of which the former world champions won 14, drew 6 and lost none.

Lopetegui reportedly made his decision known to the Spanish squad five minutes before the official statement about his future was made by Real Madrid.

On Tuesday evening, 13 time UEFA Champions League winners Real Madrid said in a statement, "Real Madrid 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."

Spain who are placed in Group B at the World Cup begin their campaign against Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal before taking on Iran in their second game and Morocco in their final group game.

Spain will now be coached at the World Cup by former Real Madrid and Spain captain Fernando Hierro.

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| Edited by: Abhimanyu Sen
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