Madrid: Spain coach Julen Lopetegui was sensationally sacked on Wednesday, two days before their opening World Cup match, for failing to tell his federation about his move to Real Madrid after the tournament and replaced by Fernando Hierro.
Former Spain defender Hierro’s only previous senior coaching role was one season with Oviedo in the Spanish second division, although he was also assistant to Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid before that.
The 50-year-old will have barely 48 hours to prepare his team for their opening World Cup match against neighbours and bitter rivals Portugal in Sochi on Friday.
Real unexpectedly announced on Tuesday that Lopetegui, who had only recently extended his contract with Spain and was unbeaten in his 20 games in charge, would take over next season.
In announcing one of the most extraordinary coach sackings in World Cup history, Spanish football federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales said he had found out about the move five minutes before it was announced by the Champions League winners.
“The coach, while he is a RFEF employee cannot do things in this way. I found out with a phone call five minutes before the official announcement. We feel obliged to take this decision,” Rubiales told a news conference at the team base in Krasnodar.
“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 that represents all Spaniards, 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.”