Venezuela is known more for baseball than football, but the improved form they’ve managed under Richard Paez since he took over in 2001 apparently wasn’t enough for the fans.
He quit La Vinotinto today after being roundly booed and jeered in San Cristobal last week as Venezuela beat Bolivia 5-3 to move into fifth place in the South American World Cup preliminaries, just one spot out of the qualifying places.
In previous decades, Venezuela often navigated entire preliminary tournaments without recording a win. Paez himself was on the team that lost 11-0 to Argentina in 1975. Quite why the fans turned against him in recent months is not apparent from the articles about his resignation — any ideas?
Perhaps he is a victim of the expectations his own modest success as manager has brought. Paez turned Venezuela into a competitive team, if not a successful one, as they at least did not embarrass themselves when hosting the Copa America earlier this year, reaching the quarter-finals. Ranked outside Fifa’s top 100 when he took over, Venezuela rose to an all-time high of 48 in 2004.
Paez’s anger at the supporters for their jeering, some of which was also aimed at his son who plays for the national team, was more than evident as he gestured back at them and left with this parting shot.
“The football played by our beloved Red Wines has not been able to beat the inadequate atmosphere which surrounds the national team,” Paez said in a letter to the FVF. “This directly affects our professional responsibility to pick, lead and obtain results.”