Not wanting to be obstacle, Venezuela's Paez quits

November 26, 2007

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Richard Paez resigned as Venezuela's soccer coach Monday, saying he does not want to be an obstacle in his country's attempt to qualify for its first World Cup.

His resignation comes less than a week after Venezuela scored three times in the final eight minutes to beat Bolivia 5-3, leaving it in fifth place in South American World Cup qualifying. Four, and possibly five, teams will advance.

Paez took over as coach in January 2001 and led Venezuela, better known for its baseball than soccer, to modest success. Venezuela soccer federation president Rafael Esquivel said there is no candidate at the moment to succeed Paez.

Esquivel said at a news conference Paez delivered a letter expressing his decision to leave before the end of the year.

"As I'm not going to change my style of working with the national team, that has given us so many tangible and positive results," Paez said in his resignation letter, read aloud by Esquivel. "I don't want to be an impediment or an obstacle in the path to our goal, qualifying for the World Cup."

The remarks were interpreted as a reference to Paez's prickly relations with Venezuela's fans. During the Bolivia game, Paez did little to hide his annoyance with many in the crowd of 25,000, who chanted and shouted for lineup changes. Paez responded with gestures to the crowd.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press