Soccer Clubs That Have Ties With Drug Cartels

The connection of soccer clubs with drug cartels represents a disturbing reality that tarnishes the reputation of the beautiful game.

While many allegations remain speculative and lack concrete evidence, the pervasive nature of organized crime in countries like Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela gives credence to the need for vigilance and scrutiny within the soccer community.

Efforts to combat corruption, enhance transparency in club operations, and sever ties with criminal elements are essential to safeguard the integrity of soccer and preserve its status as a beautiful game.

Only through collective action and a commitment to ethical principles can soccer emerge from the shadows cast by drug cartels and reclaim its rightful place as a source of inspiration and unity for millions worldwide.

In this article, we talk about clubs allegedly connected to notorious drug trafficking organizations, shining a light on this shadowy aspect of the sport.

Football Clubs That Have Ties With Drug Cartels

1. Atlético Nacional

Soccer Clubs That Have Ties With Drug Cartels

One of Colombia’s most celebrated soccer clubs, based in Medellín, a city infamous for its involvement in the drug trade, has been under the cloud of suspicion regarding its connections with criminal organizations.

Despite the success the club has enjoyed in continental competitions, including winning the South American Copa Libertadores twice, allegations have emerged linking it to drug cartels.

Speculations and rumors abound regarding financial backing from drug lords and the possibility of illicit activities funding the club’s operations.

Atlético Nacional’s achievements on the field have been tainted by its dark past, with reports suggesting ties to the notorious Medellín drug cartel, led by the infamous Pablo Escobar.

Many attribute the club’s success, including reaching the Copa Libertadores final in 1989, to Escobar’s alleged financial support and influence.

2. Deportivo Táchira

Soccer Clubs That Have Ties With Drug Cartels

Based in San Cristóbal, Venezuela, this club operates in a country facing political and economic turmoil, which creates fertile ground for illicit activities such as drug trafficking.

Despite the challenges, this club holds the record for the most appearances by a Venezuelan club in the Copa Libertadores. Its most notable international achievement was reaching the quarter-finals undefeated in the 2004 Copa Libertadores.

It is also one of only two Venezuelan clubs to progress past the first phase of the Copa Libertadores or reach the quarter-finals.

While the club’s direct ties to drug cartels are not as evident as those of counterparts in Colombia and Mexico, the broader societal context raises concerns about the influence of criminal elements in Venezuelan soccer.



3. América de Cali

Soccer Clubs That Have Ties With Drug Cartels

Another Colombian soccer giant with a controversial past entangled with drug cartels is Millonarios FC.

The club, based in Bogotá, has also seen success in South American club competitions, although specifics about its connections to drug cartels remain unclear.

Millonarios FC plays its home matches at the Estadio El Campín, one of Bogotá’s most iconic stadiums.

Similar to other Colombian clubs like Atlético Nacional and América de Cali, Millonarios FC has faced allegations of ties to drug lords, but concrete evidence is scarce.

Reports suggest that various aspects of the club’s operations, including financial dealings and sponsorship arrangements, have been scrutinized amid suspicions of illicit funds flowing into the organization.

While the extent of Millonarios FC’s involvement with drug cartels may not be as pronounced as some of its counterparts, the shadow of organized crime looms over the club, raising questions about its integrity and transparency.

4. Club Deportivo Guadalajara (Chivas)

Soccer Clubs That Have Ties With Drug Cartels

In Mexico, where drug cartels wield considerable power and influence, even soccer clubs like Chivas have found themselves entangled with organized crime.

Despite the absence of concrete evidence, rumors of cartel sponsorship, money laundering through club investments, and other illicit connections have circulated within the Mexican soccer community.

Chivas is one of Mexico’s most successful teams, boasting 12 league titles.

Also, the club holds the league record for the longest winning streak at the beginning of a season, with 8 consecutive wins.

Guadalajara has been the most successful Mexican side in Copa Libertadores, having reached the semifinals twice (in 2005 and 2006) and finishing as runners-up in the 2010 edition.

5. Club América

Soccer Clubs That Have Ties With Drug Cartels

One of Mexico’s most successful and recognizable clubs, Club América, has faced allegations of connections with cartels, particularly due to its association with high-profile figures rumored to have ties to organized crime.

Despite the lack of formal charges or direct implication, murmurs of illicit influence continue to circulate.

In terms of achievements, Club América has an impressive track record in Mexican football.

It holds the record for the most titles won by any team in Mexico, with fourteen league titles to its name. Domestically, the club has also won six Copa México titles and six Campeón de Campeones cups.

On the international stage, Club América has secured ten FIFA-recognized club trophies, the most among CONCACAF clubs.


6. Millonarios FC

Soccer Clubs That Have Ties With Drug Cartels

Millonarios FC, based in Bogotá, has faced accusations of ties with drug cartels, although the extent of these connections remains unclear.

Despite the allegations, Millonarios FC has established itself as one of the most dominant clubs in the country, boasting several league titles to its name.

In an interview with Caracol Radio, a former president of Millonarios hinted at the possibility of the club’s board of directors considering relinquishing two league titles as part of an effort to cleanse the team’s image and sever ties with narcotics organizations.

This admission marked a significant departure from the usual silence surrounding such issues in Colombian soccer.

Reports have suggested that Millonarios FC may have received financial backing from Gonzalo Rodríguez Gacha, also known as “El Mexicano,” a former leader of the Medellin Cartel.

However, concrete evidence linking the club to specific drug cartels remains elusive, despite scrutiny of its financial dealings and sponsorship arrangements.

7. Independiente Medellín

Similar to its counterparts, Independiente Medellín is rooted in the city of Medellín, which has long been shadowed by the influence of drug cartels.

Competing in the Categoría Primera A, Independiente Medellín shares Estadio Atanasio Girardot with its city rival, Atlético Nacional.

The club’s rivalry with Atlético Nacional is legendary, with their clashes known as El Clásico Paisa, marking one of the most significant derbies in the country.

Located in Medellín, a city historically associated with the notorious drug cartel led by Escobar, Independiente Medellín has faced speculation about receiving financial support from the late drug lord.

Though lacking concrete evidence, the belief that Escobar may have funded the club persists among many.

8. Envigado FC

Soccer Clubs That Have Ties With Drug Cartels

Despite being relatively smaller compared to its counterparts, Envigado FC has found itself implicated in the web of cartel influence.

Situated in Envigado, a municipality near Medellín known for its ties to drug trafficking, the club has raised suspicions about its financial backers and the sources of its resources.

In recent years, Envigado FC has faced scrutiny due to alleged links to drug cartels such as “Los Oficina de Envigado” and criminal gangs like the Urabenos.

The club’s troubles escalated when it was placed on the United States government’s kingpin list of organizations owned by suspected drug lords.

In November 2014, Envigado FC and its main shareholder, Juan Pablo Upegui, were added to the blacklist, known as the Clinton List, due to their connections to a drug gang known as the Oficina de Envigado.