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Old 15-06-18, 08:47
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Default Luis Rubiales took a call and listened

Luis Rubiales took a call and listened
In shock to what he was told. He asked for more time, was turned down, so he hung up and hurriedly dialled Julen Lopetegui’s number. There was no answer and very soon it was too late.

At 5.45pm Russia time on Tuesday, five minutes after the president of the Spanish Football Federation had been informed, everyone else knew too. Unforgivable, the president thought. Lopetegui, the Spain manager, had gone to see his Bo Horvat Jersey Adidas Official Canucks Shop: Authentic, Womens, Youth Jerseys players, to tell them what Real Madrid had just told Rubiales: that he was joining the club after the World Cup. At the same time, a statement went up on Real’s website.

The fallout was nuclear. Taken by surprise, it took over an hour for the federation to respond with a short statement of its own. Rubiales was in Moscow at the Fifa congress but he left swiftly for the airport where he boarded the next available flight to Krasnodar, 1,196km to the south where Spain have their base. He was furious as he considered what to do.
It was two days before the start of the World Cup. It was also only three weeks since Lopetegui Chris Jones Jersey Authentic - Womens Youth Red, Black, Pink Elite Chiefs Jerseys had renewed his contract until 2020. “This is our project,” Rubiales had said then. Now that project had been broken the question was whether Spain’s effort to win the World Cup had been broken too, irreversibly damaged before it began.
Would Lopetegui’s move to the Bernabéu prove an unwelcome distraction? Spain v Portugal would, Boomer Esiason Jersey at least in the press room, be something else. They could, and would, demand that questions be all about the game, but few would listen. Not long ago, Lucas Vázquez had been asked about Real’s search for a manager and the departure of Zinedine Zidane. After he gave an answer, Erik Gudbranson Womens Jersey the federation press officer reminded everyone they were there to talk about Spain. Lopetegui, sitting alongside, noted, “Bloody hell, it’s the World Cup,” like there could not be anything bigger. When those words are played back now they sound rather different, hollow.
No one was seriously suggesting Lopetegui’s commitment to winning the tournament was reduced but that contradiction between words and deeds did not go unnoticed. And did his demand for focus become harder to digest now? How easy would it be to keep the focus – of the public, the players, the press – on the pitch? In practical terms, would he have to deal with signings for Real? Would he dedicate some of his time to planning for his club as well as his country? Would they be calling him? Would that matter? He would not be the first manager to coach a national team knowing his post-tournament destination but suggestions this is like Luis Aragonés heading to Fenerbahce Matt Calvert Jersey in 2008 or Louis van Gaal going to Manchester United in 2014 are a false equivalency.
Equally, no one was seriously suggesting Spain’s players would have any less desire to win the World Cup because their manager was heading to Real Madrid – the idea Andrés Iniesta and his Barcelona club-mates might effectively down tools is of course absurd, or that decisions would be made to favour Real players now, but the relationship would be conditioned by the new scenario. Any doubt may be debilitating, however unfounded, and authority undermined. There is a phrase the Spanish are fond of: Caesar’s wife must not only be honest, she must appear honest.
Did that really matter? Did any of it? Could they go on as if it had not happened? Rubiales ruminated on all this but there was something else: anger. Or to use his word, “valores”. Ethics. He barely slept. Instead, he spoke. He spoke to staff. He spoke to Lopetegui. He spoke to the players. Some told him to stick with Lopetegui but he could not escape that feeling and it ate at him.

Dominic Fifield
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