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Lopetegui sacked by Spain on eve of World Cup

AFP  |  Krasnodar (Russia) 

dramatically sacked Lopetegui on Wednesday -- just two days before the team's opening game against at

In a surprise announcement on Tuesday, Real named Lopetegui as their next to start work after the tournament in Russia, sparking outrage among the federation and Spanish fans at the timing of the announcement.

At a severely delayed press conference at Spain's base in Krasnodar, Spanish said he felt Lopetegui's decision to join so close to the start of the tournament "obliged" him to take drastic action.

"I am here to say that we feel obliged to sack the national team manager," said Rubiales.

Lopetegui had signed a contract extension until 2020 just last month and Rubiales is reportedly angry at only being informed of his decision to join Real minutes before the European champions made the announcement public.

"I have spoken with the players and I can guarantee that the new technical team will do everything they can. We are left in a very difficult situation," he said.

No decision has yet been made over who will take charge, with due to face European champions in Sochi on Friday.

Former Real Fernando Hierro, who is currently Spain's sporting director, and under-21 have emerged as the principal candidates.

Lopetegui was appointed Spain in July 2016 and never tasted defeat in the job, leading the team through 20 unbeaten games ahead of La Roja were among the favourites to lift the trophy this summer but the astonishing developments of the past two days could have a devastating affect on their chances.

There were fears his appointment could open up old divisions between the Real Madrid and factions in the Spain squad.

For the first time since 2006, there are more players from Madrid in a Spanish squad for a major tournament, with a six-strong Real contingent and just Gerard Pique, and from Barca.

However, according to reports in the Spanish media, the players tried to intervene at the last minute to prevent Rubiales sacking Lopetegui. Lopetegui had a short playing career at both Madrid and as a

However, his coaching career had been far from distinguished before being handed the role as Spain coach after a last-16 exit at Euro 2016 brought Vicente del Bosque's eight-year reign to an end.

After short spells at Rayo Vallecano and with Madrid's youth team Real Madrid Castilla, Lopetegui enjoyed a successful time with Spain's under-19s and under-21s.

He then spent 18 months in charge of but was sacked after exiting at the group stage in his second season.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, June 13 2018. 16:30 IST
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