Spanish Federation boss Rubiales has no regrets over sacking

‘I’m proud of the way Hierro and his staff have behaved’

 Spain’s head coach Fernando Hierro reacts after the penalty shootout defeat to Russia in the  World Cup round of 16 match in Moscow. Photograph: Peter Powell/EPA

Spain’s head coach Fernando Hierro reacts after the penalty shootout defeat to Russia in the World Cup round of 16 match in Moscow. Photograph: Peter Powell/EPA

 

Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales insists he has no regrets over the decision to sack coach Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the World Cup despite La Roja’s failure to progress beyond the last 16 in Russia.

Lopetegui had been unbeaten in his 20 matches in charge but was relieved of his duties just days before Spain’s opening match against Portugal after agreeing to become the new Real Madrid boss after the tournament.

Fernando Hierro was named as stand-in coach and, although Spain finished top of Group B to reach the knockout stages, they made it no further after losing on penalties to Russia on Sunday.

Rubiales stood by his decision to dismiss Lopetegui and praised the work done by Hierro and his team.

He also said the Federation would now look at what direction to take with regards the next Spain coach.

“I don’t regret the decision taken with Lopetegui because it was done with conviction and values that aren’t influenced by subsequent results,” he said in quotes reported by the Spanish press.

“When a decision is made with responsibility and, above all, with values, one has to be calm.

“All my board of directors gave me unanimous support, we are very calm.

“Now we need to analyse things and see what’s best for the national team and the Federation.

“What I have clear is that I’m proud of the way Hierro and his staff have behaved. He has assumed this responsibility with bravery.

“In the coming weeks we will see what’s best for everyone.

“You’re always learning things, now it’s very difficult to analyse everything in an hour.

“We’re the toughest judges of ourselves and we’ll see what things can be improved.

“I’m very proud of my staff and I give them a 10. Pain? Yes, we were better, but this is sport. You must congratulate Russia.”

Spain, the 2010 world champions, saw their hopes of glory this summer ended by the host nation despite dominating possession at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.

The match finished 1-1 after extra-time, Artem Dzyuba’s 41st-minute penalty cancelling out Sergei Ignashevich’s early own goal, and it was Russia who emerged winners when goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev saved spot-kicks from Koke and Iago Aspas.

“In sport, the best don’t always win. We’ve seen great teams who have been knocked out,” said Rubiales

“Of more than 200 countries who take part only one can win, and we’ve been among the best 16.

“I’m convinced that 99 per cent would say that Spain have been much better [than Russia].

“Of course it’s painful, but when you do things with conviction you need to be calm.”

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