Igor Akinfeev’s penalty shoot-out heroics saw the hosts through to the quarter-finals on Sunday, with Spain, who took the lead through Sergei Ignashevich’s early own goal, failing to find a way through Russia’s defence following Artem Dzyuba’s equaliser from the spot.
Lopetegui had impressed in Spain’s unbeaten qualification campaign, only for the former Porto boss to be sacked on the eve of the tournament after it was announced he would take charge at Real Madrid following the World Cup.
But Rubiales, president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation, refused to look back on that decision as the reason for Spain’s failure.
“Today there is pain, as we have been eliminated,” Rubiales said.
“I do not regret it, it was a decision made with responsibility, conviction and values. You cannot look back later due to a result on the pitch.
“I am not worried about subsequent comments, these are the values of the new Federation”
Fernando Hierro took over in the wake of Lopetegui’s dismissal, but Rubiales offered no indication as to whether he would stay on as head coach.
“We will look at it over the next few weeks, and communicate the decision when it is made,” Rubiales said.
“We always learn things, we have to see what things can be improved, I feel very proud of the staff, it’s a pain, but this is sport, we have to congratulate Russia.
“We are feeling hurt by this, eliminated by an opponent not at our level. In this sport the best team does not always win.”