The story of the 2018 World Cup may have just occurred.
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Spain have fired their head coach Julen Lopetegui a day after it was announced he would become the new manager of Real Madrid following the World Cup.
On the eve of the tournament and just over 48 hours before their opening game of Group B play against rivals Portugal on Friday, the Spanish national team are in chaos.
Fernando Hierro has been rushed in as the new head coach but the Real Madrid and Spanish national team legend will have his work cut out.
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Speaking at a hastily arranged press conference in Krasnodar, Russia, the president of the Spanish Football Association, Luis Rubiales, detailed the decision to fire Lopetegui, 51.
“It’s the Spanish team. You can’t do things this way,” Rubiales said. “I don’t feel betrayed. Lopetegui, while he’s been with us, has done impeccable work. Another COA is how this has been done, without knowledge of the association. I admire Julen very much, I respect him very much. He seems to me a top trainer and that makes it harder to make the decision.”
Rubiales went on to confirm that he found out about Lopetegui agreeing to join Real Madrid, after the World Cup, just five minutes before the official announcement was made on Tuesday.
The announcement of Lopetegui taking over at Real Madrid is also said to have caused serious problems within the Spanish camp. The timing of the announcement was deemed as being too disruptive with players from Real said to have known he would take over from Zinedine Zidane before their national team teammates from other clubs.
Lopetegui took charge of Spain in 2016 and led them to the World Cup and was unbeaten in his 20 games in charge. He was due to coach in his first major tournament as the Spanish coach but now that has all ended.
Ahead of Spain’s opening World Cup game all of the talk is about this crazy situation as Lopetegui’s decision to sign a deal with Real Madrid without previously speaking to the Spanish federation has cost him the chance to lead his country.