Sports Betting Linked to Hit on Colombian Soccer President

Sports Betting Linked to Hit on Colombian Soccer President

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Cold-blooded assassination

Investigative reporters in Colombia have named sports betting as a motive for the cold-blooded assassination of second division soccer club President Édgar Páez.

On Saturday at around 6:15pm, two hitmen on motorcycles intercepted Tigres FC President Páez in a vehicle in which he was traveling with his daughter and shot him repeatedly. He was declared dead shortly afterward. The Federación Colombiana de Fútbo and the national soccer body’s executive committee took to X Sunday with a message of condolences:

The Bogotá Metropolitan Police confirmed Páez’s murder occurred in Puente Aranda, a town in the Colombian capital. Tigres had just lost 2-3 at home stadium Metropolitano de Techo to Atlético de Cali in the Categoría Primera B and Páez was returning home after the match when the assassins struck.

An investigative journalist unit from Colombian national daily El Pais links the possible motive of the murder to sports betting, while other media houses suggested drug trafficking and money laundering.

Match-fixing links

The murder of the Tigres President coincides with Colombian clubs – and many others in South America – being investigated after authorities flagged possible instances of match fixing. Last week, the operator and organizer of pro soccer leagues and tournaments in Colombia, the División Mayor del Fútbol Profesional Colombiano (Dimayor), said it was specifically investigating games in the sports betting-brand-sponsored B division, commonly known as Torneo BetPlay Dimayor.

received “alerts about matches in the B tournament”

President of Dimayor Fernando Jaramillo confirmed the body received “alerts about matches in the B tournament” and that an agreement was in place with the Prosecutor’s Office to investigate further. According to The New Century, Jaramillo did not name any of the franchises or individuals under scrutiny.

Colombia has long been a hotbed for drug cartels sending out hitmen to kill soccer players over lost bets, such as the high-profile murder of national team captain Andrés Escobar in 1994, and sometimes for no motive at all, including the murder of 11 players from amateur association football team Los Maniceros 2009.

South American storm

The murder of Páez follows rampant match fixing scandals that are engulfing South America from Brazil to Bolivia, while earlier this month Chile recently gave its soccer body an order to ditch sports betting firms, including league sponsors Betsson.

Pino Calad links Páez to “several self-confessed drug traffickers”

While sports betting may be the main motive investigators of Páez’s death are looking at, director of Colombian TV station Publimetro, Alejandro Pino Calad, links the departed soccer boss to drug trafficking and money laundering. Pino Calad links Páez to “several self-confessed drug traffickers” including Claudio Javier Silva and Luis Caicedo, murdered in 2021 and 2022, respectively.

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