Real Madrid president Florentino Perez says “nothing justifies” Spain sacking manager Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the World Cup in response to the La Liga club naming him as their new boss.
Lopetegui insisted he acted in a “professional and honest” manner in accepting the Real job on Tuesday, only to be dismissed the following day.
He said he was initially congratulated by federation president Luis Rubiales.
Perez said Rubiales’ reaction was “one of pride” and he “disrespected” Real.
The Spanish football federation said it dismissed Lopetegui two days before Spain’s opening game against Portugal because the negotiation occurred “without any information” being shared with the organisation.
Perez said the agreement was announced before the World Cup to “make it transparent and avoid speculation and rumours”.
He cited Chelsea signing then Italy boss Antonio Conte before Euro 2016 and Manchester United confirming Dutch manager Louis van Gaal’s appointment before the 2014 World Cup.
“We had the legitimate freedom to make this agreement,” said Perez. “That agreement has somehow been interpreted as disloyal.
“The president’s response was unprecedented. Nothing justifies Lopetegui not being on the bench for tomorrow’s game.”
‘The saddest day of my life’
Lopetegui said it would have been “bad” to hide his appointment from the Spain squad, adding “the players took it well”.
“When they found out, we had one of best training sessions of the whole week,” he said.
Asked if he regretted the decision, he replied: “We’re completely convinced what we have done is honest and clear. I would change the reaction from Rubiales.
“He congratulated me, was cordial and the after that, I don’t know. I would have liked Rubiales to have done things in a different way.”
The former goalkeeper has signed a three-year deal to succeed Zinedine Zidane at the Bernabeu.
“Yesterday was the saddest day of my life since the death of my mother, but today is the happiest day of my life,” he added.