World Cup: Spain fires undefeated coach one day before tournament

June 13 (UPI) — The Spanish Men’s National Team fired coach Julen Lopetegui Wednesday, the day before the 2018 World Cup.

Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales announced the decision at a news conference. He said the RFEF was left out of the loop when Real Madrid announced Lopetegui’s hiring on Tuesday.

“We have been obliged to fire the national coach,” Rubiales told reporters. “We wish him the best, he has done an excellent job in getting us to the tournament.”

“But the federation cannot be left outside the negotiation of one of its employees, and find out just five minutes before a public announcement. If anybody wants to talk to one of our employees, they have to speak to us too, that is basic, as this is the team of all Spaniards. The national team is the most important we have, the World Cup is the biggest of all.”

Lopetegui never lost a game as Spain’s coach. He has been the national team boss since 2016.

Spain announced it is replacing Lopetegui with former Real Madrid and Spanish national team player Fernando Hierro. He served as Spain’s sporting director entering the World Cup.

The Spaniards open the tournament against Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal at 2 p.m. Friday at Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, Russia.