Why Mexico's World Cup Captain Isn't Allowed Near Any American Promotional Products or Materials During Event
Though he's captaining the Mexican national soccer team at the World Cup, Rafael Márquez isn't warming up in the same apparel or drinking from the same branded drinkware as the rest of his El Tri teammates. It's not because he gets some special captain privileges. Quite the opposite, actually.
It's because Márquez is currently on the U.S. Treasury Department's blacklist of people who have been accused of helping drug cartels launder money.
Márquez hasn't been formally charged, however, but his inclusion on the list prohibits American individuals, businesses and banks from associating with him in any way, per the New York Times.
"Rafa" isn't even allowed to stay with the team if they're in hotels with any American connection.
He's been on the blacklist since August, after businesses connected to him were accused of acting as fronts and laundering money for Raúl Flores Hernández, the suspected leader of a drug trafficking business.
This not only meant that Márquez himself had to be careful. It made the broadcast, and therefore the marketing viability of promotional materials placed throughout the stadiums in Russia, tricky. Let's not forget, he's the captain of a major team that just beat one of the favorites to win this year's tournament (Germany), and has played in five consecutive World Cups—he's only the third player ever to do that. And the media can't interview him after the game if he'd be in front of ads for American businesses, which are everywhere.
Even the trophy for the player voted Man of the Match is sponsored by Budweiser. That means that if Márquez put on an especially powerful display on the pitch, he couldn't accept the trophy.
That does leave the space open for foreign companies, however.
Márquez is still allowed to wear the Adidas uniforms the rest of his team wears during games. (It'd be a real problem if they wore Nike.) And he can still appear in promotional materials for Puma.
— PUMA Football (@pumafootball) June 17, 2018
He's also not the only one who has to refuse to accept the Budweiser Man of the Match trophy. Muslim players have turned down the trophy due to its sponsorship by an alcohol company.
With the World Cup moving to Qatar in 2022, a country whose official religion is Islam, it will be interesting to see if the trophy has new sponsorship, or how it's handled during that year's tournament.