Mexican Women’s Soccer Pioneer Mar Ibarra Found Murdered Near Tijuana

Ibarra founded Mexico’s first professional women’s soccer team, las Xolas de Tijuana.

Marbella “Mar” Ibarra, 44, was found wrapped in plastic and beaten to death in Rosarito, south of Tijuana, early Monday morning. Ibarra was a pioneer for the women’s game in Mexico, using the profits from her beauty salon in Tijuana to start amateur club Isamar FC.

That club eventually formed a partnership with Liga MX side Xolos de Tijuana to create Mexico’s first professional women’s team, las Xolas. The club drew thousands of spectators at a time when Liga MX Femenil — which Ibarra played a fundamental role in helping found in 2017 — was still years off, and she helped launch the careers of players like Carolina Jaramillo, who’s since gone on to play for Mexico’s national team.

Ibarra was reported missing in mid-September by family members who believed she’d been kidnapped, and it’s understood that she was killed on Friday, Oct. 12, although her body was not found until Monday.

According to reports, her hands and feet had been tied and her body showed signs of torture. Although a post-mortem examination is being carried out, the case is being treated as murder.

According to the Los Angeles Times, investigators do not believe that her killing is related to her role as a coach and promoter of women’s football, but the motive behind the brutality remains unclear.

According to Yahoo! Sports, homicides in Baja California, which includes Tijuana and Rosario, climbed by 84 percent between 2016 and 2017. It’s gotten even worse this year, including 251 documented homicides in July alone — the most violent month in the city’s history.

Ibarra had recently stepped down from her role with Liga MX Femenil to help work with a foundation which helped young female players financially. 

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