Spain sacks Lopetegui and other World Cup implosions

Julen Lopetegui has been sacked by Spain just two days before Russia 2018. We look at other World Cup campaigns that descended into chaos.

Spain made the stunning decision to dispense with coach Julen Lopetegui just two days before its first match at the 2018 World Cup.   -  AFP

RFEF president Luis Rubiales announced Julen Lopetegui's sacking on Wednesday   -  Getty Images

Spain made the stunning decision to dispense with coach Julen Lopetegui on Wednesday, just two days before its first match at the 2018 World Cup.

Lopetegui was named as Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid successor less than 24 hours prior, something Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales said he heard about just five minutes before the news was announced.

Following a delay to Lopetegui's news conference in Krasnodar on Wednesday, Rubiales, who travelled from the FIFA Congress in Moscow for talks, informed the media that the coach had been dismissed, with Fernando Hierro assuming his responsibilities for the World Cup.

Spain was considered one of the pre-tournament favourites, but the decision, which comes with a clash against Portugal scheduled for Friday, potentially sends its campaign into disarray.

We look at other times when off-field drama caused chaos on the grandest stage.



Despite having served a 15-month ban for failing a drugs test in 1991, Maradona worked his way back into the Argentina squad for the World Cup in the United States three years later.

Maradona, wearing the captain's armband, announced his return with a lovely goal in their opening 4-0 win over Greece, though it was the crazed look on his face as he stared down the camera in celebration that drew more comments.

The virtuoso attacker tested positive for ephedrine after a 2-1 triumph over Nigeria and was sent home from the tournament, with Argentina losing its next two games against Bulgaria and Romania to go out in the last 16.



Republic of Ireland captain Roy Keane was an integral figure in their qualification for the 2002 World Cup, but he was unhappy with its training facilities upon arrival in Saipan.

Keane opted to leave but changed his mind, leading to a heated spat with manager Mick McCarthy that resulted him losing his place in the squad.

The mercurial midfielder was frequently filmed walking his dog back at home while his Ireland team-mates made it to the last 16 in South Korea and Japan.



At least France's World Cup campaign in 2010 got under way before it descended into chaos.

A goalless draw against Uruguay was followed by a 2-0 loss to Mexico, with Nicolas Anelka and Raymond Domenech involved in a heated half-time bust-up.

Anelka was subsequently sent home and the remainder of the squad revolted, refusing to train during a session that was open to the public.

Team director Jean-Louis Valentin resigned and Domenech left after a dismal competition ended with a 2-1 loss against hosts South Africa.

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