Marbella “Mar” Ibarra—one of the foremost promoters of women’s soccer in Mexico—was found dead early Monday morning in El Rosarito, Baja California, according to that state’s attorney general. Her body was found covered in a blanket, and her hands and feet were tied, El Sol de Tijuana reported. She previously had been reported missing, and authorities said they believe she was beaten to death on the previous Friday.
Ibarra initially funded and coached an amateur women’s team called Isamar FC, thanks to income from her beauty salon, which gave soccer players in Baja California an opportunity to develop their talents. Her success with that group led to a partnership with Liga MX’s Club Tijuana, and Ibarra became best known as a founder, executive, and coach of Club Tijuana Femenil.
Las Xolas became the first Mexican women’s team to play in a United States league (the WPSL) in 2015. That team included Mar’s niece, Fabiola Ibarra, who appeared with the Mexico national team at the 2015 World Cup. Tijuana was also one of the founding members of Liga MX Femenil, which played its inaugural season in 2017. Ibarra stepped down from her role as technical director with Tijuana last year, in order to work on “a long-sought project with which she would achieve her professional growth.”