Marquez gets shot at fifth World Cup finals
After being named in Mexico's squad for Russia, Rafael Márquez will have the opportunity to become only the third player after Germany's Lothar Matthaus and fellow Mexican Antonio Carbajal to appear in five World Cup finals.
Yet,Márquez (right) belongs to an even more select club as the only player heading to Russia who has been sanctioned by the United States Treasury Department for alleged ties to the drug trafficking trade.
Márquez, though, has not been charged with a crime and strenuously denies any involvement. And, when his name first appeared among 21 Mexican nationals accused of assisting drugs lord Raul Flores Hernandez, nicknamed El Senor, last August, the player vowed to clear his name.
"In the same way that I have done throughout my professional career I will confront this, my most difficult match, and I will try to clarify all this," Márquez said.
Ten months later and there is precious little clarity. Marquez, alongside Grammy-nominated musician Julión Álvarez, has been designated as a "front person" for Hernandez's drug empire, effectively laundering his drug money through legitimate enterprises.
Arrested last March for alleged trafficking of cocaine from South America to Mexico, Hernandez was not at the level of El Chapo or Pablo Escobar, but seems to have acted as a go-between for the notorious Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels.
The Treasury department has linked Marquez to Flores through nine companies, clubs and foundations attached to the former Barcelona defender.