Wed, Jul 01, 2009 - Page 19 News List

Coach resigns from Colombian team over death threats


Santa Fe coach Ruben Israel resigned and left Colombia on Monday after being threatened with death if he did not keep a particular player in his squad.

The 51-year-old Uruguayan said he had received calls on his mobile from a man claiming to be a member of hardcore Santa Fe fans and demanding that central defender Francisco Najera should be a part of his squad.

“The man said to me ‘I’m simply making it clear to you that if Najera is not in the squad we’re going to blow you and your family away,’” Israel told reporters minutes before leaving the country.

Israel had yet to take charge of a Santa Fe match, having only signed at the end of May for the team that failed to qualify for the championship semi-final stage.


Santa Fe president Armando Farfan said Israel was “scared to death” and he had been unable to persuade him to go back on his decision to leave by offering him safety guarantees.

Najera, who had been assured by Israel of a place in the squad before the threats, quit the club after the incident.

“I’m leaving Santa Fe for my personal and professional well-being because I think I shouldn’t stay here with all that’s happened,” the 26-year-old Najera said.


Farfan said the player had been pushing for a salary increase that the club was not prepared to give him.

Santa Fe, six-time champions but seeking their first title in 34 years, immediately began the search for a new coach.

Israel was appointed to replace former Colombia and Ecuador coach Hernan Dario Gomez, who quit after Santa Fe’s failure to reach the semi-finals. He led Libertad to Paraguayan league titles in 2007 and last year.

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