Three weeks ago, Julen Lopetegui
signed a contract extension to remain as the head coach of the Spanish national team through 2020.
On Tuesday, Real Madrid announced Lopetegui
would be Zinedine Zidane
's successor as head coach.
On Wednesday, while the FIFA Congress was going on in Moscow, Luis Rubiales
, the president of the Spanish federation,
fired Lopetegui after meeting with him in Krasnodar, where La Roja, one of the World Cup favorites, is based.
Rubiales says he was given the news of Lopetugui's hiring by Real Madrid
president Florentino Perez
five minutes before Tuesday’s announcement by the reigning European champion. Players pleaded with Rubiales not to fire Lopetegui, but the new Spanish
federation president said the situation was untenable.
Former Real Madrid star Fernando Hierro
, who has been working as the Spanish federation's director of football, will replace
Lopetegui, overseeing training on Thursday and coaching the team against Portugal on Friday in its World Cup opener.
"It is a nice challenge and an exciting one," Hierro said after being
introduced by Rubiales. "The circumstances are what they are and from now on I accept the responsibility bravely, it can't be any other way. We have a group of players who have been together for two
years to work towards the World Cup and I have been sporting director, so I understand the motivation is huge."We cannot alter two years of hard work in the coming days."