Corona Offers Inmates in Mexico a Second Chance Through Soccer

We Believers organized the league

Soccer has become a fixture of the daily outdoor routine for prison inmates around the world. But Corona Mexico is taking the activity beyond exercise and diversion, creating the Second Chance League, offering hope, dignity and lessons in teamwork and self-discipline to men incarcerated in jails across the nation.

One inmate, José Santillán, is already on the path to living his dream. He is set to join Club America F.C. next season. Other pro teams have agreed to consider inmates for their rosters as well.

Moving forward, the AB InBev-owned brewer aims to keep providing such opportunities to marginalized folks who embrace rehabilitation and seek a new lease on life.

Brooklyn-based agency We Believers developed the initiative with the Mexican government and NGOs Reinserta and Comunial.

Gustavo Lauria, co-founder of We Believers, spoke with Muse about his desire to give back and future plans for the league.

MUSE: How did you come up with the idea for the Second Chance League?

Gustavo Lauria: At We Believers, we aim to use our creativity to give back to the people and planet whenever it makes sense for our clients and their businesses. AB InBev [which owns Corona] is one of those like-minded partners that truly helps us accomplish this vision. That is why they hired us and gave us the freedom to develop all kinds of initiatives based on three main pillars: inclusion, soccer and sustainability.

Soccer is one of the main outdoor activities in jail. Playing gives inmates a sense of freedom that encourages them to practice every day. That's why we thought we could find great talents in correctional facilities. And since Corona is the sponsor of nine of the biggest soccer teams in Mexico, we had the chance to partner with them to select the best players and possibly give them a chance to become professionals once they finish their jail sentences.

Can you talk about the importance of Corona being at the heart of this?

Corona is the undisputed leader in the Mexican market. There's a strong connection and sense of responsibility between Corona and society. The brand not only connects with people but also has a positive impact on their lives. When you realize that Corona is so ingrained in Mexican culture, you truly see the power of the brand, which is why purpose and social responsibility are at the heart of its marketing plans. You can see it in our past campaigns such as "Match of Ages," "Plastic Fishing Tournament" [which won high honors at last month's Clios Awards] and "Native Sportscasters."

How will you seek to promote this effort?

The campaign benefited from a partnership with the most important sports networks in the country: Fox Sports, TV Azteca and TUDN for TV and online broadcast, plus the largest radio networks. They all provided league updates and highlights and covered all aspects of the initiative [with matches played this spring]. As a result, the audience reacted very positively, following the games, which encourages us to keep creating these kinds of efforts.

Tell us about José Santillán.

Santillán is serving a five-year sentence but has been working towards reducing it to three years for good behavior. This is his third year, but his exact release date will be determined by the correctional organizations. This is why the agreement will be able to become part of Club America at some point during the next soccer season. We were able to interview Santillán a couple of times. He is determined to fulfill his dream of being free and playing the sport he loves on a professional level.

What other plans do you have for the Second Chance soccer league?

The achievement of collaborating with the correctional system, NGOs and soccer clubs opens the door for more tournaments and sports in general to become a part of Mexico's correctional system and the rehabilitation of inmates. In addition, all professional clubs have selected inmates who will have the opportunity to join them after their release day.

What was most challenging and rewarding about this project?

The first day I spent in jail capturing content for this idea, I asked myself: "Is it worth it to take this kind of risk to do the work I believe in?" Imagine yourself talking with people who will stay there for more than 50 years because they committed very serious crimes, with few police around. Imagine their faces, how they look at you, and how you would feel in that situation. But at some point, after spending hours and hours with them, I was able to see the humans behind the roughness. Many of them made me think they truly understood what they did was wrong when they were under bad influences. But more importantly, they let us feel how powerful it is to dream of a second chance.

Advertise With Us

Featured Clio Award Winner



The best in creativity delivered to your inbox every morning.