Spain fires coach Lopetegui 2 days before World Cup opener

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Spain coach Julen Lopetegui was fired Wednesday, two days before the country’s opening World Cup match against Portugal and a day after accepting the job to coach Real Madrid next season.

Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales did not name a replacement.

Rubiales said firing Lopetegui wasn’t the best solution for the national team but it was needed after being caught by surprise by Real Madrid’s announcement.

”The federation cannot be left out of a negotiation by one of its workers and be informed five minutes before the press release,” Rubiales said. ”We have been compelled to act.”

Rubiales, who took over as president last month, said the federation’s values were broken and it was the only decision he could make.

”It’s a difficult situation, but we are not the ones who determined the action that had to be taken. The federation has its values and it has to maintain them,” he said. ”It may look like a weakness now, but with time this will make us stronger.”

Lopetegui did not attend the news conference in Krasnodar.

”We have to work on a series of decisions that come just two days before the opener,” Rubiales said. ”There’s a lot to do.”

More AP World Cup coverage: www.apnews.com/tag/WorldCup

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