The 2018 World Cup kicks off from Russia tomorrow. While most teams are settling down in the country to gear up for what they hope will be a long stay, one nation made a significant change just days before the tournament.
Spain, one of the favorites to lift the Cup, will be lead by an interim coach.
Spain’s former head coach, Julen Lopetegui, accepted a job as Real Madrid’s coach. However, he did so without clearing the move with the Royal Spanish Football Federation.
Federation president Luis Rubiales made the announcement on Tuesday, per ESPN:
“We have been obliged to fire the national coach,” Rubiales said Wednesday. “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.”
Spain has the third-best odds to win the World Cup, and was previously undefeated under Lopetegui. The national team’s director of football, Fernando Hierro, was named as the replacement.
Spain’s first match of the tournament comes on Friday night. It won’t be easy either, as the team takes on Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal.