AP NEWS

Spain: Coach Luis Enrique staying despite personal problem

May 17, 2019
FILE - In this Monday, Oct. 15, 2018 file photo, Spain's coach Luis Enrique gestures, prior to the Nations League soccer match between Spain and England at Benito Villamarin stadium, in Seville, Spain. The Spanish soccer federation says it has not considered replacing Enrique as the national team’s coach despite his long absence because of personal reasons. Enrique missed the first round of qualifiers for the European Championship earlier this year, and will also miss the next one in June because of the undisclosed personal problem. (AP Photo/Miguel Morenatti, File)

MADRID (AP) — The Spanish soccer federation has dismissed concerns about coach Luis Enrique leaving the national team.

The federation has not considered replacing him despite his long absence for personal reasons, it said on Friday.

Luis Enrique missed the first round of qualifiers for the European Championship this year and will miss the next round in June because of an undisclosed personal problem.

“The federation remains fully committed with the coach of the national team,” federation sports director Jose Francisco Molina said. “The federation never considered making a change and our position has been relayed to him. The mutual commitment remains intact. For us there were never any doubts, and we hope to be able to count on the coach for a long time.”

Molina dismissed Spanish media reports the federation was looking for a possible replacement for the coach, and said Luis Enrique has also never showed any sign he was considering leaving the national team.

“It never came up,” Molina said. “The mutual goal is to remain together.”

Molina said there was no timeline for Luis Enrique’s return, adding that during “this difficult moment” the federation is making sure it gives its unconditional support to him.

Neither the federation nor Luis Enrique have disclosed details about the problem that has kept him sidelined since March, when he had to abandon the team camp just before its qualifying match at Malta.

Molina spoke before assistant coach Robert Moreno made the squad announcement for the qualifiers against the Faeroe Islands and Sweden in June.

Moreno said Luis Enrique remains very active and in close communication with his staff, and made all the final decisions regarding the players summoned on Friday. He said the coach will continue to follow the team’s practices and matches remotely.

“He is still working with us, the dynamic remains the same,” said Moreno, who also replaced Luis Enrique on the bench in the first two qualifiers. “We’ll have him close to us throughout the training camp.”

Spain plays at the Faeroe Islands on June 7, then hosts Sweden at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium three days later. It leads Group F with six points, two more than Sweden and three more than both Romania and Malta.

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