Real Madrid blamed as Spanish World Cup hopes rocked by sacking of coach Julen Lopetegui

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The head of the Spanish Football Association has pointed the finger of blame at Real Madrid as the nation’s World Cup preparations descended into turmoil following the sacking of coach Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the tournament.

Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales acted swiftly to remove Lopetegui – who it was announced on Tuesday will take over at Real Madrid from next season.

Real’s announcement said he would begin his new role following the World Cup, but Rubiales was unhappy to have only been made aware of the news five minutes before the Champions League winners made the news official.

On Wednesday, Spain delayed a press conference at the Krasnodar Stadium by well over an hour before Rubiales addressed the media.

“We have been forced to dispense with the national coach, we wish him the best of luck” he said.

“I don’t want to get into how Real Madrid should go about things. The Spanish team is the team of all Spain.

“If it had been up to Julen it wouldn’t have happened in this way and I wouldn’t have found out five minutes beforehand.

“The negotiation occurred without the RFEF having any information. (We were told) just five minutes before the press release. We have a way of behaving that needs to be adhered to.

“Obviously there was some sort of problem with communication but we can’t be expected to find out about something like this five minutes (before the announcement) and not take the necessary decisions.”

Lopetegui was unbeaten in his 20 games in charge of Spaiin
Lopetegui was unbeaten in his 20 games in charge of Spain. (Adam Davy/PA)

“I don’t want to get into names but we’ll make an announcement shortly,” he added.

“As of this afternoon, with the new coach and his staff, we’ll move forward. I feel very close to the players and to Julen.

“I have spoken to them and I can assure you that the players and the the new coaching staff will do everything possible to lead the team as far as possible, but it’s a complicated situation.”

Spain Under-21 manager Albert Celades, who is part of the coaching staff with the senior squad in Russia, and Spain’s director of football Fernando Hierro are two of the possible replacements as head coach heading into the World Cup.

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