BREAKING: Spain sack Julen Lopetegui on the eve of World Cup
Spain have dismissed manager Julen Lopetegui with little over 24 hours before the opening game of the 2018 World Cup
It was announced on Tuesday that Lopetegui would replace Zinedine Zidane as Real Madrid manager at the start of next season, a move that is said to have angered senior figures within the Spanish FA.
Newly appointed president Luis Rubiales, who is said to have been furious at the way the situation was handled, left Moscow on Tuesday night for Spain's training base in Krasnodar. Rubiales is said to have been informed of Lopetegui's appointment at Real only minutes before it was publicly announced.
A press conference was scheduled for Wednesday, where it was announced that Lopetegui would not be taking charge of the Spanish team at the finals.
The Spanish football federation (RFEF) explained it had dismissed the 51-year-old because the negotiations with the European champions occurred "without any information to the RFEF"...
'We have to decided to fire the national coach. What we have achieved in getting here is due in great part to him, and we must thank him and wish him luck. The Spanish national team is the team of all the Spaniards. We only found out just five minutes before that he was leaving for Madrid.
There is a way that you must act, Julen has worked in a great way with the team, but we cannot accept how he has acted in this case.'
Lopetegui took over the position as the Spanish national team boss in 2016. He had previously coached the country's Under 21s team and also been manager at FC Porto for two years. Now removed from his position, reports on Wednesday morning suggested Spain's Under-21 coach Albert Celades would be an option to step in for the World Cup. Former Real captain Fernando Hierro, now Spain's sporting director, is also said to be in the frame.
Spain's opening World Cup game comes on Friday when they take on Iberian neighbours Portugal in Sochi. Drawn in Group B, they will also face Iran and Morocco.