MEXICO CITY (AP) Mexican soccer star Rafael Marquez is back with his club more than a month after the U.S. Treasury Department named him on a sanctions list for alleged drug trafficking ties.
Atlas said Monday that the 38-year-old defender is practicing with the team again.
In August, Marquez was among 22 people sanctioned by the department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. He was accused of acting as a frontman for the Raul Flores Hernandez drug trafficking organization.
Marquez has denied any wrongdoing and said he will work to clear his name. He is not known to face any criminal charges in the United States or Mexico.
Atlas says Marquez will continue his legal fight while at the team.
Marquez has played internationally with AS Monaco, Barcelona and the New York Red Bulls.
MEXICO CITY (AP) Mexico’s national soccer team and club Atlas have issued cautious statements backing embattled star Rafael Marquez but also apparently distancing themselves somewhat after he was among 22 people sanctioned by the U.S. government for alleged drug trafficking ties.
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Atlas calls Marquez an “exemplary” player and wishes him well. It says it hopes for “a resolution that allows our captain to rejoin the team,” but does not give further details.
Marquez did not practice with the club for a second straight day Thursday.
The national team said Marquez has represented “El Tri” in a dignified fashion for two decades and it trusts “he will clear up his situation with authorities.”
The 38-year-old is a former defender for Barcelona and New York Red Bulls. On Wednesday he denied having any drug ties.
In terms of bombshell stories, this is one for the ages.
Atlas defender and Mexican soccer legend Rafa Marquez is one of 22 people sanctioned by the United States Treasury as part of a drug trafficking ring.
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The former Barcelona, New York Red Bulls, and Monaco defender is linked to Raul Flores Hernandez, who himself “has links to two major Mexican drug cartels” according to Bloomberg.
U.S. officials allege that Marquez and Mexican singer Julion Alvarez have longstanding relationships with Flores Hernandez and provided fronts for him and his drug organization.
Serious business, to be sure. The sanctions mean frozen American assets for Marquez and the others, and certainly could just be the tip of a disciplinary iceberg.
Marquez is Juan Carlos Osorio’s captain with the Mexican national team, and has 143 caps. Surely there’s plenty to come in this eyebrow-raising news story.
Club Tijuana midfielder Aviles Hurtado sniped the top corner on Saturday evening in the opening minutes of their exciting draw against Atlas in Liga MX play, and he did so in style.
In the 15th minute with Atlas already up 1-0, Hurtado took an outswinging corner from Joe Corona and planted it into the top left corner with a stunning overhead kick, holding off two defenders in the process and sending the commentators into a frenzy.
Hurtado picked up a second goal in the 38th minute as both teams went punch for punch in the match that ended 3-3.
Rafa Marquez is going home to Atlas, the club for which he made his professional debut nearly 20 years ago as a 17-year-old product of the club’s youth academy, the Guadalajara-based Liga MX club announced on Sunday.
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After a year-and-a-half tour in Italy with Serie A’s Hellas Verona, for whom he signed following a complete career renaissance at the 2014 World Cup, Marquez’s legendary career, which has seen him play for six clubs in five countries — winning two UEFA Champions League and four La Liga titles at Barcelona; one Ligue 1 title at Monaco; and a pair of half-season titles at Leon — is nearing the inevitable: the end.
At the 2014 World Cup, Marquez famously became the first player in history to captain his country at four different World Cups.
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Now back in Mexico, Marquez joins a struggling side which finished 16th of 18 teams in the just-completed Apertura season. Atlas, who finished in the bottom-third of the league in terms of goals conceded this fall, now find themselves in danger of being relegated with another poor showing in the upcoming Clausura.