Millonarios Could Relinquish Titles Won under Drug Dealers’ Influence

By Dialogo
October 04, 2012

Millonarios, a Colombian professional soccer team with 13 titles won in the national leagues, is evaluating the possibility of returning all trophies obtained under the influence of drug trafficking, said its president, Felipe Gaitán, on September 25.

Gaitán stated that the titles in question were won in 1987 and 1988; years in which powerful drug lords financially influenced several teams that were playing in the professional tournaments. In the case of Millonarios, drug lord Gonzalo Rodríguez Gacha owned the team.

“This is an ethical, preliminary debate. There are still hours of analysis and debate pending. There is a discussion on the table about the possibility that we only retain those titles which were obtained legally,” Gaitán told the Colombian press from Spain.

The trophies were obtained in 1987 and 1988 under the leadership of Coach Luis Augusto García, who did not react well to Gaitán’s comments, and accused him of being a newcomer to the soccer world and someone who “does not know how to go about landing a title.”

“It’s a disgrace that they try to take away a pair of victories that were obtained by a team and an immense amount of work,” added the former coach to City Noticias news, from Bogotá.

Argentine player Mario Vanemerak, one of the stars on the team then, and current head coach of Real Cartagena, also rejected Gaitán’s proposal, and considered it as “senseless.” “If the chairman (of Millonarios) wants to do so, then neither we nor the fans would ever forgive him, as it is offensive,” he told Caracol news broadcast.

On the contrary, Minister of Interior Fernando Carrillo considered it as a positive initiative, stating, “I hope other clubs follow this example.”
For his part, Minister of Labor Rafael Pardo believed the initiative was “courageous.”

Other important teams, like Nacional and América, were also influenced by drug money from Pablo Escobar and brothers Miguel and Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela, leaders of the Medellín and Cali cocaine cartels, respectively.