Rafa Márquez looks set to make his fifth World Cup squad this summer for Mexico. But he might stand out from his teammates in Russia.
Márquez is a living legend in Mexico, having played for decades at some of the biggest clubs in the world, including Monaco and Barcelona. He’s made 143 appearances for El Tri and will retire after the World Cup.
But Rafa Márquez has some trouble brewing off the pitch. In August he was sanctioned but the U.S. Treasury Department for alleged involvement in drug trafficking, something Márquez has denied.
For this reason, Márquez was seen training with the Mexican national team without the normal sponsorship logos on his clothing that usually accompany Mexico players’ training gear.
The Mexico national team typically trains with shirts emblazoned with logos from sponsors like Coca-Cola and Citibank. But Márquez’s clothes were not adorned as such.
Nada como trabajar duro en el #DíaMartí.Seguimos dejando todo en el CAR. #HazloXElla | #NadaNosDetiene pic.twitter.com/hJ2zAp034E
— Selección Nacional (@miseleccionmx) May 18, 2018
After being prodded by journalists, the Mexican Football Federation released a statement on the manner:
“In order to have Rafa Márquez focused 100 percent on sports and knowing the personal issue he is going through, … we have consulted different experts and decided to take actions that we believe will not harm or involve actions that may harm Rafael Márquez or the Mexican Football Federation.”
It’s an odd place for the FMF and Márquez to be in. Many of its sponsors are U.S.-based companies as El Tri has a huge following north of the border. Given Márquez’s sanctions by the U.S. Treasury Department, Mexico doesn’t want to put any of these relationships at risk.
Additionally, it’s unlikely Márquez will participate in Mexico’s friendly against Wales at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, on May 28.
So Rafa Márquez will look a bit silly training for the World Cup in gear that looks naked compared to the shirts of his teammates, but it doesn’t look like any of this mess will affect his ability to play in Russia and captain El Tri for a record fifth time.