Spain's Luis Rubiales: No regrets about coaching change after World Cup exit

Spanish federation president Luis Rubiales and coach Fernando Hierro said they had no regrets about the team's last-minute coaching change that preceded the World Cup, despite Spain's second-round exit at the hands of hosts Russia on Sunday.

Hierro was rushed into the post after Julen Lopetegui was sacked for failing to tell his federation about his move to Real Madrid after the tournament, having already extended his contract to coach Spain.

Rubiales, who made the decision to remove Lopetegui on the eve of the World Cup, stood by his move.

"I haven't regretted that decision or any other because they are decisions made with responsibility, conviction and values, and it was not a sporting decision," the federation president said.

Asked whether Lopetegui would return as coach, Rubiales said a decision would be made in the next few weeks.

"We are going to look for the best for the national team and for the federation," Rubiales said. "I'm proud and have nothing negative to say to the whole group that has been in Russia, Hierro and all his team, the players, the coaching staff, all those who have been here.

"We have to stay calm. You asked me about the same thing after the last game we won, and I said the same thing: We have started a journey, and now we have to continue on it calmly and responsibly. During the next weeks, we'll make a decision.

"Today we are in pain. This is a very difficult situation because they have eliminated us. But when you are sure about the way you have done things with responsibility and conviction, the only way is to move forward."

Hierro, composed and calm after the loss, said he had no other choice but to accept the position to coach the team.

"I'm not an opportunist," said Hierro, who was part of Lopetegui's coaching staff. "The situation was what it was ... there is no sense in looking back.

"I put my head on the line to be coach two days before the Portugal match. ... I thought I had to do it, and I accept the consequences."

Hierro also declined to place the blame for Spain's exit on the coaching drama so soon before the tournament.

"There is a lot of pain in the delegation, the players, the coaching staff, the workers," he told reporters. "We had great hopes for this World Cup, and it wasn't to be. But I have no complaints against anybody."

Hierro said Spain did everything right, but "football is like that" after his side dominated Sunday's tie over 120 minutes, only to go out on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

"Like all Spaniards, we had high hopes and dreams, and we are sad that we couldn't do it for the millions of people who were following the game back home," he said.

"This was just a question of football, of winning and losing. I can safely say that we can all look each other in the eye. The players have been extraordinary for their effort, their professionalism, their solidarity."

Hierro also insisted that Spain should not change their possession-based style of play, even though their tactics failed to break down a stubborn Russia defence.

"We have our identity, which is because of the type of players we have," he said when asked about the playing style. "We need our personality. ... Before we started winning titles, people said we have no identity."

Rubiales said he believed Spain had lost to an inferior team.

"We have been the better team, and we leave with the feeling that we have been eliminated by an opponent who had not played at our level," Rubiales said. "We feel frustrated. Not always the best team is the one that advances."