Spain Head Coach Julen Lopetegui Sacked Just Days Before 2018 FIFA World Cup

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Jun/13/2018

Julen Lopetegui was sacked as Spain's national team coach on the eve of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, one day after agreeing to take over at Real Madrid. 

The RFEF announced afterward that Fernando Hierro will assume the role of coach for the tournament. Hierro, the national team's sporting director, is due to address the media later on Wednesday.

"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."

The distractions and drastic coaching changes cannot be helping Spain, which was among the favorites to win this year's World Cup and now had odds of 7-1 at BetOnline.

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Spain may be having a bad day but the North American nations of the USA, Canada and Mexico are celebrating each being awarded 2026 World Cup hosting duties.

In a long-anticipated vote on Wednesday, the joint bid of the U.S., Mexico and Canada defeated Morocco, its only challenger, as 200 national soccer federations cast their ballots to cap FIFA's annual Congress.

"This is an incredible, and incredibly important, moment for soccer in North America and beyond," said Carlos Cordeiro, the president of U.S. Soccer.

The 2026 tournament will feature an expanded field of 48 teams -- the current field has 32 -- and will mark the first time in FIFA's history that a three-nation bid has been awarded the showpiece event.

The joint bid's plans call for 60 of the 80 games to be played in the United States -- including all matches from the quarterfinals onward -- while Canada and Mexico host 10 apiece. The final is expected to be played at MetLife Stadium, just outside New York.

- Alistair Prescott, Gambling911.com

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