Spain fire coach ahead of World Cup

MADRID. — Spain have sensationally sacked head coach Julen Lopetegui after he was named the new Real Madrid boss, two days before their opening World Cup soccer match with Portugal.

Real Madrid announced on Tuesday that Lopetegui would succeed Zinedine Zidane at the Bernabeu on a three-year deal.

The Spanish football federation (RFEF) said yesterday it had dismissed the 51-year-old because the negotiation occurred “without any information to the RFEF”.

Spain sporting director Fernando Hierro will take charge for the World Cup

The former Real Madrid and Bolton Wanderers defender is in his second spell as sporting director, having returned to the role in November 2017, six years after leaving the position.

The tournament starts today in Russia.

RFEF president Luis Rubiales, who was told of Lopetegui’s new role five minutes before it was announced, said he had found himself in “a very difficult situation”.

“We have been forced to break our agreement with Julen Lopetegui,” Rubiales confirmed at a press conference yesterday.

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