Pablo Cuadra/Getty Images
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has criticised the Spanish football federation for their decision to sack Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the 2018 FIFA World Cup and says “nothing justifies” the decision.
It emerged Lopetegui had accepted the manager’s job at Real on Tuesday and was swiftly sacked as Spain manager, replaced by Fernando Hierro.
Lopetegui was unveiled as Real boss on a three-year contract on Thursday, when Perez made his feelings known about the national team’s call to sack him, per the Mirror‘s Alex Richards:
“There’s nothing that justifies Julen Lopetegui being on the bench in tomorrow’s game.
“But today is an important day for all of us.
“We have a man who is fulfilling one of his dreams. It’s a huge challenge that not many people get to face.
“Julen you will get all support and I want to welcome you to your home, of Real Madrid.”
Perez went on to enthuse that he and the club had acted in the correct manner in attaining Lopetegui’s services after Zinedine Zidane departed the manager’s seat, per Sport Witness:
Sport Witness @Sport_Witness
Perez: “Madrid and Julen had reached an agreement in the exercise of the freedom of both parties, we respected clauses and it would be effective after the World Cup. The objective of communicating it was a show of transparency and normality to avoid rumours.”
The Real figurehead added the decision of Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales was one based on pride, doing his utmost to defend the actions of his new coach in the face of scrutiny.
That being said, Spanish football writer Dermot Corrigan found that to be the main point behind Thursday’s big reveal at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu:
Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan
Not so much a presentation of new coach Julen Lopetegui as a defence of Real Madrid / Florentino Perez, by Florentino Perez, so far.
Spain open their World Cup against Group B contenders and European champions Portugal on Friday, a difficult first test for Hierro especially with a dressing room somewhat divided, per Sport‘s Jordi Gil.
Still, Real can be relaxed about their hand in the matter and now have a coach without World Cup distractions and a full pre-season. ESPN FC’s Liam Twomey highlighted more positives to the matter:
Liam Twomey @liam_twomey
Disaster for Spain, but this all works out great for Real Madrid. The risk for them was that Lopetegui would fail at the World Cup & come into football’s most powerful dressing room with his standing diminished. No chance of that now
Gil explained in his report that the majority of the squad were upset with Lopetegui—bar Real captain Sergio Ramos—most of whom felt the hypocrisy after he had encouraged them to put club distractions on hold while they were at the World Cup.
Spain’s tough call to fire Lopetegui so near the tournament has divided opinion, but his new employers, and more specifically Perez, remain staunch in the belief La Furia Roja have made the wrong choice.