Spain began the week looking like a World Cup favorite, but the events of the past two days have thrown the Spanish national team into a state of chaos.
The Spanish federation fired Spain manager Julen Lopetegui on Wednesday, a day after he was announced as Zinedine Zidane’s replacement as Real Madrid coach. That appointment was set to begin after the World Cup, but Real Madrid’s handling of the move — which included failing to involve the Spanish Federation, and only notifying the federation minutes before the public announcement — helped set the stage for Lopetegui’s shocking dismissal.
“We have been obliged to fire the national coach,” Spanish federation president Luis Rubiales told reporters on Wednesday. “We wish him the best, he has done an excellent job in getting us to the tournament.
“The federation cannot be left outside the negotiation of one of its employees, and find out just five minutes before a public announcement,” Rubiales said. “If anybody wants to talk to one of our employees, they have to speak to us too, that is basic, as this is the team of all Spaniards. The national team is the most important we have, the World Cup is the biggest of all.”
Spain sporting director and former Spanish national team captain Fernando Hierro has been named to replace Lopetegui as head coach for the World Cup. Spain begins its World Cup on Friday against Portugal.