President Juan Manuel Santos vowed to rid Colombian soccer of any “macabre association between criminals and sport clubs,” speaking at the Sportsman of the Year ceremony on Wednesday.
“Either we change soccer, or soccer is finished for us!” Santos said at the event, which was organized by El Espectador.
The president referenced the “recent revelations about links that drug traffickers and paramilitaries have with some soccer clubs.”
“To be clear, this is not going to be a witch hunt, because we know that most leaders and promoters of the sport are good people,” Santos said.
The problem was down to “bad apples, who are entrenched in this sport” according to the president.
Santos went on to suggest possibility of a day exclusively devoted to cleaning up soccer and addressing the possible connections with criminals.
The president, who supports Bogota club Santa Fe, said that he had played football as a boy, before becoming more involved in “chess, squash, golf, and volleyball.”
In October the Colombian Football Federation considered suspending Santa Fe football club over its suspected involvement in laundering drug money. In the same month the Prosecutor General’s Office announced it would investigate revelations that the auditor of Colombian soccer federation Fedefutbol, who was murdered in July, was accountant to extradited paramilitary boss Sebastian Mancuso,