Legendary Mexican football player Rafael Marquez has denied any connection to a drug trafficking organisation.
The 38-year-old and is among 22 people and 43 entities including a football team and casino, being sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Office for alleged links to Raul Flores Hernandez, a suspected drug trafficker who was indicted in California and Washington DC in March.
Besides Marquez, the US authorities said they had identified a popular Mexican singer, Julion Alvarez, as being a “front man” for Flores’s illicit funds.
Marquez is the only player in the history of the sport to captain a team at four different World Cups and there are calls for him to lead Mexico’s squad for next year’s World Cup in Russia for a record fifth time after he netted the vital goal in Mexico’s 2-1 victory last November over the United States.
The player did not practice with his club Atlas in Guadalajara on Wednesday.
Speaking at a news conference, Marquez said: ‘I clarify that I have not, and I have never participated in any of those organisations that I was mentioned with in various media outlets.’
The sanctions freeze all U.S. assets of the people and entities named and forbid U.S. citizens from doing business with them.
It is the single largest such designation of a drug trafficking organization ever by its Office of Foreign Assets Control, the department said in a statement.