Colombia’s Millonarios, who have won 13 titles — a national record they share with America SAD — may renounce the last two, believed obtained with the help of drug-trafficking proceeds, chairman Felipe Gaitan said on Tuesday.
Gaitan said the title successes of 1987 and 1988 — their most recent — could be scratched from the record as it was during those years that drug lords laundered their gains through teams competing in the national championship.
It was during that period that the club was essentially bankrolled by infamous drug trafficker Gonzalo Rodriguez Gacha, who died in a shootout with police in 1989.
Gaitan said Millonarios are looking to disassociate itself from the Gacha era and would therefore consider giving up those titles.
“This is a debate about ethics — very preliminary. For now there remain hours of analysis and discussion. There is a discussion on the table about the possibility that we only retain those titles which were obtained in legal fashion,” Gaitan told reporters.
Gaitan was speaking from Spain where he was attending yesterday’s prestige Santiago Bernabeu Trophy encounter between his side and Real Madrid.
However, his comments were not well received by former coach Luis Augusto Garcia, who led the side to the two titles in question.
Garcia told City Noticias he believed that Gaitan “does not know how you go about landing a title.”
The former coach added: “It seems an insult,” insisting that the championships were “obtained with a group of people and a team [which put in] an immense amount of work.”
Argentine Mario Vanemerak, who was one of the stars in the team of that era, also said he considered Gaitan’s comments “senseless.”
“This is very disturbing for all who were on that team — it really cost us to land those titles.If the chairman wants to do so, then neither we nor the fans would forgive him as it is offensive,” he told Caracol.
Other clubs also attracted the proceeds of drug-running from the cartels run by the likes of Pablo Escobar and siblings Miguel and Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela, in cities such as Medellin and Cali.