The morning of Wednesday, June 13, 2018, has gone down in football history. There is no precendent for the events which took place at FK Krasnodar's academy two days before the World Cup. Luis Rubiales, the president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), arrived in Krasnodar from Moscow on Tuesday night with a firm plan to fire Julen Lopetegui. Rubiales landed late and waited until Wednesday morning to meet with the coach and the players.
Lopetegui didn't make it easy for him. At no moment did he plan on resigning, nor did he see the commotion which had been created by his signing for Real Madrid. The Basque coach wanted to remain in charge of Spain for the World Cup, but Rubiales wanted him out. It was then when he spoke with the players -- and there were moments of tension.
Sergio Ramos, Spain captain and guarantor of Lopetegui's appointment at Madrid, was the one who faced up to Rubiales. Ramos was the only one who emphatically fought for the former Porto coach to remain in charge for the finals in Russia, alleging sporting reasons. Rubiales wanted dialogue and, for that reason, he delayed his press conference for 90 minutes.
Rubiales explained that it was a matter of principles that meant Lopetegui couldn't contnue. He said that acting in an appropriate manner is above anything else in this new era at the RFEF. Ramos did not take it well, but it soon became clear that the Madrid defender stood alone.
The rest of the dressing room remained disappointed with Lopetegui. The coach insisted to them, day after day, in his teamtalks that they should only be focused on the national team and that they should not think about their clubs, even though some had their futures in the air. The players took that on board, they haven't spoken with their clubs -- or other teams -- and stayed faitful to their coach's request.
When they then saw that Lopetegui had been negotiating with a club during the last week, the players felt hurt. Lopetegui had lost the confidence of the dressing room and Ramos had no support. Rubiales saw that and realised that firing the coach was the only way out.