Spain sack their manager a day before the World Cup

Latest: Spain’s World Cup preparations are in turmoil after the sacking of head coach Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the tournament.

Lopetegui has lost his job after it was announced on Tuesday he would take over at Real Madrid following the World Cup in Russia.

On Wednesday, Spain delayed a press conference at the Krasnodar Stadium by well over an hour before Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales announced the decision.

He said: “We have been forced to dispense with the national coach.”

Rubiales added: “We wish him the best of luck.”

Suggestions first emerged early on Wednesday that Rubiales was not happy with the situation and would remove Lopetegui just two days before Spain’s Group B opener against Portugal.

Addressing the media in Russia, Rubiales revealed he had only been told of Real’s decision five minutes before they announced Lopetegui’s appointment.

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

“The Spain team is the team of all Spaniards. You can’t do things this way, two or three days before the World Cup. We have been obliged to make this decision.”

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

Original story (10.08am): Spain delayed a press conference with Julen Lopetegui today amid reports the national team head coach could leave his post on the eve of the World Cup.

Real Madrid announced yesterday that Lopetegui will become their new manager after the tournament, following Zinedine Zidane's decision to step down.

Initial confirmation from the Spanish FA said the 51-year-old would depart following the World Cup, but there is now widespread speculation in Spanish media that federation president Luis Rubiales is not happy with the situation and may remove Lopetegui just two days before Spain's Group B opener against Portugal.

Radio Marca said all signs pointed to Lopetegui not being in charge for that match.

The head coach and president are due to appear at a press conference at the Krasnodar Stadium at 10.30am BST after originally scheduling the media briefing for an hour earlier.

- PA

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