Corona started a prison soccer league in Mexico, and one inmate is even going pro

We Believers dreamed up the ‘Second Chance’ league, featuring teams from the country’s six main jails

Published On
May 22, 2023
Prison inmate José Santillán hugging a rep from Club América after signing a pro contract with the Mexican soccer team

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Prison soccer leagues have something of a history around the world—including a famous one in aparteid-era South Africa. Now, Corona has organized one in Mexico, and it’s even led to an inmate getting signed to a professional club.

The agency We Believers came up with the “Second Chance” league, which involved inmates from the country’s six main prisons. The government and two NGOs—Reinserta and Comunial—were also part of the effort. The case study below explains the league in more detail, and concludes with one inmate, José Santillán, enjoying a very special moment indeed.


Gustavo Lauria, co-founder of We Believers, told Ad Age that the agency is always looking for ideas around Corona Mexico’s three main communication pillars—inclusion, soccer and sustainability. This campaign hit the first two.

“Soccer is one of the main outdoor activities in jail,” Lauria said. “Playing gives inmates a sense of freedom that encourages them to go on every day. That’s why we thought we could find great talents in correctional facilities. And because 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, who knows, give them a chance to become professional players once they finish their jail sentence.” 

The agency visited the different correctional facilities more than 10 times in three weeks to interview the inmates and capture the environment as much as possible within the security restrictions.

“We were in direct contact with hundreds of inmates, with basically not many police around,” Lauria said. “It was a very moving experience to be able to talk and walk with them, to hear about their dreams, stories and what they are learning in jail. I was able to see very human people behind tough-looking guys. Some of them are very young and will stay there for most of their lives ... tough.” 

The production faced significant logistical hurdles, but Lauria said it was worth it. “It will be impossible to forget the face of Santillán when we shared the big news with him,” he said. “I knew all the efforts and risks were completely justified at that moment.”