One of the main promoters of women’s football in Mexico, Marbella Ibarra has been killed, media reports said on Thursday. Also Read - Shah Rukh Khan Donates Undisclosed Amount to West Bengal CM's Relief Fund to Help People Affected by Cyclone Amphan

Ibarra, 44, fought hard for women’s football to be recognized and played a key role in the creation of the professional women’s league in 2017. Also Read - COVID-19: Death Toll in US Crosses 1 Lakh-Mark, More Than 1.7 Million Americans Tested Positive

She was the founder of Mexico’s first professional women’s football team, Xolas de Tijuana. Also Read - Pulwama-like Terror Attack Averted by Security Forces in J&K: 20 Kgs of IED Recovered, Driver on Run

Her body was recovered on Monday with torture marks. Her hands and feet had been tied and she had been severely beaten. She was found wrapped in plastic sheeting in a beach resort south of Tijuana. She is believed to have been killed on Friday, police said.

Ibarra was missing since September and her family believed she was kidnapped. The motive behind her murder is unclear, an official said.

A post-mortem is scheduled, but the case was already being treated as murder, the BBC reported. Police said they think her murder is unrelated to her role as a coach and a football promoter, the BBC said.

Ibarra had not been a player herself but used her income from a beauty salon she ran to first fund an amateur women’s team, Isamar FC.

She then founded the professional team Xolas de Tijuana, which first played across the border in the US women’s league as there was no professional women’s league in Mexico at the time.

There was an outpouring of grief on social media.

Her niece Fabiola Ibarra, who plays for the Mexican national women’s team, tweeted she will hang on to “all the beautiful moments that I lived with you and for everything you did for me,… you are the best friend, the best aunt, and the best trainer!”

Inglis Hernandez, who plays for Xolas, the team Ibarra founded, wrote that “one day we will lift that cup again”.

Barça Women and Veracruz’s women’s team Tiburones Rojos Femenil also expressed shock on Twitter.

Tijuana, the city where she was based, has long suffered from violence and murders linked to drug trade, kidnappings and extortion.