The pioneer of women's football in Mexico, Marbella Ibarra, has been found dead Monday in the city of Tijuana. Her body was found in plastic sheeting in Rosarito, a beach resort south of the border city of Tijuana. Torture signs were all over her body.
The motive behind her murder remains unclear although according to investigative officials, her murder is unrelated to her role as coach and football promoter. She had disappeared last month and her family believes that she was kidnapped.
A post-mortem exam is scheduled but the case is being treated as a murder. She was found with her hands and feet tied. She is believed to have been killed Friday but her body was not found until Monday, police said.
Ibarra, 44, was the founder of Mexico’s first professional football team Xolas de Tijuana. She dedicated her time to a foundation helping young women players financially so they could attend tryouts with teams other than just local teams.
Ibarra was not a player herself but she started her projects using her income from her beauty salon to fund an amateur women’s team Isamar FC.
She then founded the professional team Xolas de Tijuana which played across the border in the U.S. for first time, since a professional women’s league was lacking in Mexico at that time.
Tijuana, the city she was based in, has long suffered from violence and murders linked to the drug trade, kidnappings, and extortion.
Her murder sent a shockwave among her friends and family. Her niece, who is also a football player with Guadalajara-based football club Atlas Femenil and the Mexican national women's team, wrote that she would "hang on to all the beautiful moments I had with you and all that you did for me, you are the best friend, the best aunt, and the best coach!"
Barca Women and Veracruz's women's team Tiburones Rojos Femenil also expressed shock on Twitter.