Florentino Perez defends Julen Lopetegui at Real Madrid unveiling

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has hit out at the Spanish Football Federation’s “absurd” decision to sack Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the World Cup.

Lopetegui was relieved of his duties on Wednesday after Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales learned – just five minutes before the official announcement was made – of his deal to become Real Madrid manager after the tournament in Russia.

The 51-year-old was officially unveiled at the Bernabeu on Thursday evening and Perez was quick to criticise the actions of Rubiales, who he accused of showing “disrespect” to Madrid.

“It was an absurd reaction of misunderstanding and pride, which was aimed at hurting the prestige of Real Madrid,” said Perez.

“We reached an agreement very quickly, in a few hours, and wanted to make a show of transparency, to avoid all rumours and speculation during the tournament.

“There was no reason at all why Julen Lopetegui should not have been on the Spain national team bench tomorrow.

“We feel for him that he could not achieve his great goal of success with his country.”

Lopetegui appeared visibly upset when discussing his departure from the national side, and insists he did nothing wrong when agreeing to become manager of his former club.

“Yesterday was the saddest day of my life, since the death of my mother. But this is the happiest day,” he said.

“When there was something to say the first person to know was Rubiales. I wanted to give a press conference that day but could not. I am clear that the only motive to announce it was to be honest and transparent.

“I am very relaxed, all of us are, we have acted in a fully professional and honest way. If someone wants to understand things another way, they can. But we have been professional, honest, and clear.

“I will support this magnificent group of players. In two years I have had four presidents in the federation. We survived with the strength of the squad, the team and that strength can make them world champions.”