Paulo Wanchope steps down as Costa Rica manager after fistfight

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) — Costa Rican national team coach Paulo Wanchope has resigned following involvement in a fistfight in Panama.

Wanchope was watching his country's under-23 team play in Panama on Tuesday when the scuffle broke out.

Costa Rica's soccer federation said in a statement Wednesday that Wanchope had decided to "step aside."

Local news reports indicate Wanchope was irritated at refereeing during Tuesday night's pre-Olympic match, which ended 0-0.

Video of the incident shows Wanchope angrily opening a gate to the field and shoving a youth standing behind it, while apparently receiving a shove from a man standing beside the gate. Wanchope then turns and punches the man, who kicks and hits him before police intervene.

Wanchope, who was at the stadium as an observer, approached the field several times to shout at officials that the match was fixed, said Ramon Cardoze, vice president of the Panama Soccer Federation.

Wanchope had a badge that apparently would have allowed him to go onto the pitch after play was over.

"He could go down at a certain point, but not in that aggressive way," Cardoze said.

Costa Rican newspaper La Nacion called the incident "shameful," while Prensa Libre called it "embarrassing."

Wanchope took over Costa Rica's team last year after a career as one of Central America's most famous forwards. He played for several years in the English Premier League and was a star on the national team.

Wanchope, who took over for Jorge Luis Pinto after Costa Rica's run to the 2014 World Cup quarterfinals, becomes the second high-profile CONCACAF coach to leave his post following a physical altercation. Mexico manager Miguel Herrera was fired for allegedly assaulting a journalist after El Tri won the Gold Cup in Philadelphia. Mexico has yet to name his successor.

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