MADRID, June 13, 2018 (News Wires) - Spain dramatically sacked coach Julen Lopetegui on Wednesday and appointed federation sporting director Fernando Hierro -- just two days before the team's opening game at the World Cup.
In a surprise announcement on Tuesday, Real Madrid appointed Lopetegui as Zinedine Zidane's successor to take over after the tournament in Russia, sparking outrage among the federation and Spanish fans at the timing of the announcement.
At a severely delayed press conference at Spain's World Cup base in Krasnodar, Spanish football federation (RFEF) chief Luis Rubiales expressed dismay at the timing of events that threaten to derail Spain's World Cup chances.
"The national team is the team for all Spaniards and there are some decisions we feel obliged to take to protect some values," said Rubiales.
"Negotiating is legitimate but it took place without the RFEF being informed until five minutes before a press statement was released. There has to be a message for all workers in the federation that there is a right way to do things."
Later Wednesday, Spain named Hierro as the coach for the tournament in Russia.
"Fernando Hierro will assume coaching responsibilities at the World Cup in Russia," the Spanish football federation announced.
The 50-year-old Hierro's only real coaching experience came when he was in charge of second division Spanish outfit Oviedo for one season.
Lopetegui had signed a contract extension until 2020 just last month and never tasted defeat in his 20 games in charge as Spain boss.
Spain are due to face European champions Portugal in Sochi on Friday before taking on Iran and Morocco in Group B.
BARCELONA, June 1, 2018 (News Wires) - Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino responded on Friday to speculation that he is Real Madrid's favoured candidate to succeed Zinedine Zidane as coach by saying: "What will be, will be."
Pochettino, speaking in Barcelona at the launch of the Spanish version of his book "A Brave New World", said he was happy at the north London club where he last week signed a new and improved contract.
"I have a five-year deal with Tottenham and I'm very happy at the club. My commitment is at a maximum level," the Argentinian said.
"We need to relax and take things as they come. After that we'll see what happens."
Zidane shocked Real by revealing he was leaving the club just days after making history by winning a third successive Champions League title.
Pochettino said he could understand the pressure that the Frenchman had been under.
"When a name is associated with Real Madrid, the expectations are immense... Football throws up circumstances you don't expect and you have to make the most of it each day.
"What will be, will be."
Spanish sports daily AS reported that Pochettino's new contract does not include an agreement that he can leave Tottenham if Real make an approach for him.
Pochettino led Spurs to third place in the Premier League in the just-completed season, behind Manchester United and runaway winners Manchester City.
MADRID, May 31, 2018 (News Wires) - Zinedine Zidane has decided to stand down as Real Madrid manager after leading the club to three Champions League titles in two-and-a-half seasons in charge.
Zidane revealed his decision in a hastily-arranged press conference in the Spanish capital on Thursday. President Florentino Perez appeared alongside him and revealed it was an "unexpected decision".
"I have taken the decision not to continue next year," Zidane told the media.
"I love this club and the president who gave me the chance to play for this club and manage the club of my dreams. But everything changes and that's why I've taken the decision to leave."
Zidane took over at Real Madrid following the sacking of Rafa Benitez in January 2016 and won three successive Champions League titles, as well as the Liga title in 2016-17.
The Frenchman also lead Madrid to back-to-back European Super Cups and Club World Cups in 2016 and 2017.
Perez said: "This was a totally unexpected decision and today is a sad day for me and for everyone who works for this club.
"We must thank him for his care and passion for Real Madrid over these years. "The only thing I want to say is 'hasta pronto' because I know he will return, maybe after a rest."
Zidane said his association with Madrid may not be at an end. During his five-year playing career at Madrid between 2001 and 2006, Zidane won the Champions League in 2002 and La Liga in 2003. As assistant to Carlo Ancelotti, he was on the bench in Lisbon when Madrid secured La Decima in 2014.
"Like I told the president it could be a 'see you soon' because Madrid has given me everything," Zidane added.
As to his future plans, Zidane said he was not looking to rush back into management.
NEW YORK, March 10, 2018 (Reuters) - Former world number one Maria Sharapova said on Saturday she had split with her coach Sven Groeneveld, two days after losing a third consecutive match for the first time since 2003.
The news comes after Sharapova, who said the decision to end their four-year partnership was “mutually agreed”, was beaten by 44th-ranked Naomi Osaka in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open in California on Wednesday.
After losing in the third round of the Australian Open to Angelique Kerber she was then beaten in the first round of the Qatar Open by Romanian qualifier Monica Niculescu.
She pulled out of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
Sharapova has struggled to recapture top form since her 15-month ban for taking the banned drug meldonium ended last April.
“After four successful and challenging years of collaboration together, I would like to thank Sven for his incredible loyalty, work ethic and most importantly the friendship that we have formed that will go beyond this working partnership,” Sharapova said in a statement on her website.
“Although we have mutually agreed to part ways during this time, I have been incredibly fortunate to have a team leader like him in my corner for the past four years.”
Russian Sharapova won seven titles during her time with Groeneveld, most notably the 2014 French Open.
A two-time champion at Indian Wells, Sharapova, currently ranked 41st in the world, won the Tianjin Open in October for her first triumph since returning to the WTA Tour, but has not come close to challenging for a tournament victory since.
“Maria has been one of the most hardworking and professional players I have ever worked with,” Groeneveld said.
“Her strength and fighting spirit will continue to be a force to reckon with and I have the deepest respect for her as a player and person.”