Xavi Hernandez criticises Julen Lopetegui's decision

GK David De Gea

Lopetegui was sacked Wednesday, two days before Spain's opening match against Portugal, because he accepted a job Tuesday to coach Real Madrid next season.

On Wednesday, Spain delayed a press conference at the Krasnodar Stadium by well over an hour before Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales announced the decision.

Rubiales said firing Lopetegui wasn't the best solution but it was needed after the federation was caught by surprise by Real Madrid's announcement.

'The negotiations [between Lopetegui and Real Madrid] have occurred without any information to the Spanish FA and we were informed just five minutes before the press release. "There is a way that you must act, Julen has worked in a great way with the team, but we can not accept how he has acted in this case". I have spoken with the players, and I can guarantee that they will do everything they can with the new coaching staff, we are in a very hard situation. "We have been compelled to make this decision". Rubiales learned of Lopetegui's decision five minutes before Real Madrid made it public that their new manager was going to be Lopetegui and now they are being punished for his high treason.

The sacking of Julen Lopetegui as Spain manager has sent the world of football into a state of shock just one day before the start of the World Cup.

"There's a lot to do".

The coach had signed a contract extension on 22 May, which would have seen him stay in charge of La Furia Roja until after the 2020 UEFA European Championship.

Former team captain Fernando Hierro, already in Russia as Sporting Director, has been directed to take over as coach for the tournament, the federation said on its website.

More news: Geraint Thomas wins Criterium du Dauphine for Team Sky

Spain play their first Group stage match against Portugal on Friday.

"I don't want to get into how Real Madrid should go about things".

"The values of the national team are above everything", he said on Twitter.

There are six Madrid players in Spain's team for the World Cup.

Lopetegui was announced as the new Real Madrid boss on Tuesday, taking over from departed Zinedine Zidane after the tournament. He is a top coach for me, which made the decision very hard.

"You have to be focused on having a good World Cup - we are all good".

Lopetegui is returning to Spain this afternoon and was confronted by a hoard of reporters as he arrived at the airport in Russian Federation to board his flight.

In the first reaction to the decision, former Spain forward Juanito said Rubiales' arguments had been impeccable.

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