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National women's soccer team coach Even Pellerud will step down after the Olympics, ending a nine-year run. ((Kin Cheung/Associated Press))

Even Pellerud announced Monday he would step down as coach of the Canadian national women's soccer team after the Beijing Olympics in August.

Pellerud told reporters in Vancouver he hoped to remain in the sport, but wouldn't discuss his goals.

The 54-year-old's contract with the Canadian Soccer Association ends after the Summer Games, and Pellerud — until this week — had kept his plans private.

In the past, Pellerud has mused about coaching in the new women's professional league that is scheduled to begin play in the U.S. in 2009, or taking a position with a Major League Soccer club.

He took over the Canadian women's program in 1999 after leading his native Norway to the 1995 women's World Cup championship and a bronze medal at the 1996 Olympics.

Women's team ranked 9th in world

Canada finished a strong fourth at the 2003 World Cup, its first under his leadership, and there was confidence the team would move on to better things.

Instead, the Canadians were eliminated from the 2007 World Cup in the first round and shortly after Pellerud blasted the CSA by saying the country couldn't succeed internationally until the governing body got its house in order.

He went on to say the early exit could be partly blamed on the CSA not spending enough money to allow the women to play more games against international competition ahead of the World Cup.

Pellerud also criticized the CSA for declining a chance to host the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament in Victoria, citing a lack of money.

"I have almost stopped to hope," Pellerud told the Canadian Press last October. "Deep inside me there is hope, but there is no indication of any changes at this time.

"They have other agendas right now."

A similar fate awaited the Olympic team if things weren't changed, he suggested at the time, but he has since been able to arrange up to seven games before the Games.

Just last week, he said he was happy with the number of games the women would play.

Canada's women's national team is ranked ninth in the world, after dipping to 13th in 2005.