Spain coach Julen Lopetegui has been sacked just two days before the team’s first World Cup match against Portugal, the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) said Wednesday.
Lopetegui announced on Tuesday that he would be leaving his post after the World Cup to become Real Madrid coach.
“We have felt obliged to dismiss the coach,” RFEF president Luis Rubiales told a news conference at the team base in Krasnodar.
“We cannot have an employee negotiating a contract with another team and only find out about it five minutes before the announcement.
“We have to remember all the good things he has done to get us here. But there are certain rules to follow and they have not been followed and we felt we had no choice.”
Rubiales was asked who would replace Lopetegui and he said: “We are going to disrupt things as little as possible and we are working on that [his replacement].”
Lopetegui stunned his players on Tuesday by announcing he would leave his job after the World Cup to take over as Real Madrid coach.
Rubiales only took the job of Federation president last month and his first big move was to renew 51-year-old’s contract until 2020.
Both Rubiales and RFEF sporting director Fernando Hierro have considered replacing Lopetegui with Under-21 coach Albert Celades with immediate effect.
Some of the senior players had wanted to keep Lopetegui in his position but after lengthy meetings between the team captains, Lopetegui, Rubiales and Hierro on Wednesday it was announced he would have to leave.
The press conference scheduled for 11.30 local time was put back an hour because of the meetings and delayed a further hour before Rubiales finally appeared before reporters.
Rubiales added: “Perhaps it was not him but the people that work with him. It is a very complex situation.”