BOGOTA, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Colombia's President Juan Manuel
Santos promised on Wednesday to crack down on the involvement
of drugs traffickers in football clubs.
Drugs lords, some in cahoots with ultra right-wing
paramilitary squads, have long had links with the sport in
"We'll put a brake on any kind of macabre association
between delinquents and sports clubs," Santos said in a speech
at a ceremony giving baseball player Edgar Renteria the award
as Colombia's Sportsperson of the Year.
"Either we change football or football will end for us,"
Santos said his government wanted "to eliminate any chance
of bad apples being entrenched in this sport" adding that football 's links with drugs and paramilitary groups was repugnant.
A major brewery recently withdrew its sponsorship of the
Bogota-based team Independiente Santa Fe during an
investigation into the alleged laundering in the club of
millions of dollars of drugs money.
Santa Fe are top of their group in the Clausura
championship title play-offs.
The Colombian Football Federation was recently at the
centre of a scandal when its financial advisor Manuel Bernal
Vargas, shot by gunmen in Bogota in July, turned out to be the
accountant of Salvatore Mancuso, a paramilitary leader
extradited to the United States and accused of dealing in drugs.
America, one of Colombia's biggest clubs, has been owned
since the 1980s by brothers Miguel and Gilberto Rodriguez
Orejuela, heads of the Cali drugs cartel who are in prison in
The club is on the so-called Clinton list of
organisations people and companies are banned from doing
business with at risk of severe sanctions.
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