Rafael Marquez is arguably Mexico’s greatest ever footballer, although Cuauhtemoc Blanco might have something to say about that.
The 38-year-old has won 143 caps and counting for his country and was part of the Barcelona team that won four La Liga titles in five years, as well as picking up two Champions League trophies.
But the Atlas defender is now fighting to clear his name after being named by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in a report about ‘drug kingpin’ Raul Flores Hernandez.
The report read: “Today’s OFAC designations also include Mexican professional soccer player, Rafael Marquez Alvarez (Rafa Marquez), and Mexican singer Julio Cesar Alvarez Montelongo (Julion Alvarez).
“Both men have longstanding relationships with Flores Hernandez, and have acted as front persons for him and his DTO and held assets on their behalf.
“Also designated today are Mauricio Heredia Horner and Marco Antonio Fregoso Gonzalez for acting for or on behalf of Rafa Marquez.”
The report claims Hernandez has allegiances with the notorious Sinaloa Cartel and Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion as well as having financial fronts that allow him to mask investments of illegal drug proceeds.
In response to the accusations, Marquez said: “I understand the legal situation that I find myself in, and I will immediately work on clearing up the facts alongside my team of attorneys.
“I reiterate that I have never participated in any of these organizations that have been mentioned in these reports.
“I want to reiterate my duty to assist the various authorities and corresponding governments in a punctual manner and maintain the media informed.”
Marquez is in with a real chance of becoming the first footballer to play in five World Cups, having appeared in every tournament since South Korea and Japan in 2002.
Only last year he was scoring the winner against USA in a World Cup qualifier, further enhancing his status as a hero in Mexican football.
But his short-term goals will now be focused on clearing his name.
Watch this space.
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