Marbella Ibarra, the founder of Mexico's first professional women's soccer team, was found dead on Monday near the city of Tijuana, BBC News reported on Thursday.
Ibarra's body was found wrapped in plastic, her hands and feet tied, in Rosarito, Baja California, a beach resort town south of Tijuana. Officials are treating the case as a murder after Ibarra's body showed signs of torture and severe beating. Investigators believe Ibarra was killed on Friday, and that her death had nothing to do with her work in soccer.
Ibarra was first reported missing by family members on Sept. 19, who believed Ibarra had been kidnapped. Her body was not found until Oct. 15.
Several players, including Ibarra's niece, took to Twitter to express their grief.
"It really hurts to know that you are no longer with us," Fabiola Ibarra, a member of the Mexican national women's team, said on Twitter. Fabiola said she would "hang on to all the beautiful moments I had with you and all that you did for me, you are the best friend, the best aunt and best coach."
Others, like Xolas team member Inglis Hernandez, vowed that "one day we will lift that cup again."
Ibarra, 44, dedicated her time to establishing a foundation that would provide financial aid to female soccer players, giving them opportunities to try out with teams outside of their areas. Ibarra had previously used profits from her beauty salon to fund Isamar FC, an amateur women's team she also coached.
During a time and in a country where many people did not believe women should play sports, Ibarra continued promoting women's soccer, founding a professional team, Xolas de Tijuana. Because there was no competition in Mexico, the team joined the United States' semi-pro Women's Premier Soccer league in 2015.
In 2017, Ibarra established a 16-team women's league in Mexico, one that drew more than 60,000 spectators in its first championship playoff.
Ibarra decided to step down from her role in the league after that to focus on her foundation.