Mexico’s World Cup captain is accused of laundering money for a drug lord and is banned from playing in the US
- Rafael Marquez played in his country’s historic 1-0 win over Germany on Sunday
- The defender recently became the first player to take part in five World Cups
- He was accused last year of helping Raul Flores Hernandez launder cartel money
- Hernandez is a powerful crime figure in Mexico and has links to two cartels
- Marquez received a ban from playing in the US and had assets frozen as well
The Mexico national team’s captain who helped his side to an historic 1-0 victory over Germany on Sunday has been accused of laundering money on behalf of a drug lord and banned from playing in the US.
Rafael Marquez, currently on duty with his country at the World Cup in Russia, was sanctioned by the US Treasury last year for allegedly aiding a powerful Mexican drug trafficker – Raul Flores Hernandez.
The sanctions imposed on him included having his bank accounts in the US and Mexico frozen and being barred from playing football in the US.
Marquez denies the allegations that he and his associates held assets for Hernandez on behalf of his drug cartels – but has remained a part of the Mexico World Cup squad for Russia despite some consternation in his home country.
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Mexico’s Rafael Marquez clashes with Germany’s Marco Reus during the group F match between Germany and Mexico on Sunday
Marquez giving a press conference to deny accusations of ties to drug trafficking at Atlas Football Club in Guadalajara, Mexico last year
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The defender became only the third man in history to play at a fifth career World Cup in his country’s famous victory over Germany on Sunday.
The 39-year-old came on in the 74th minute of Mexico’s 1-0 win, following in the footsteps of Germany’s Lotthar Matthaeus and fellow Mexican Antonio Carbajal.
But his inclusion in the squad drew criticism in Mexico because of the money laundering scandal.
Several of the Mexican national team’s sponsors have taken steps to distance themselves from the embattled footballer since the allegations were brought against him.
Marquez was pictured wearing a plain jersey in training this week while his teammates ran around him covered in corporate logos.
Marquez (center) and his teammates celebrate after winning 1-0 against the current world champions
Marquez has previously played for Barcelona (pictured), Monaco and has nearly 150 caps for Mexico
For now though, the legendary defender says he is just focused on the football.
‘I feel in great shape for the rest of the tournament,’ said Marquez, adding about Mexico’s victory that ‘back home no one thought that we could pull this off.
‘We have a pessimist culture in Mexico, but we have a tough mentality.’
Marquez played his first World Cup in 2002 at the age of 23, and has played all four of Mexico’s games in every campaign, all of which ended in the round of 16. Mexico’s best-ever result was reaching the quarterfinals in 1970 and 1986.
Marquez played for Barcelona between 2003 and 2010 and plans to retire after the World Cup. He played his last two club seasons with Mexican team Atlas, where he started his professional career in 1996.
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