Mexican national team captain Rafael Márquez has been in some pretty serious legal trouble for the past year. Last August, the United States Treasury Department sanctioned him for allegedly helping Mexican drug kingpin Raul Flores Hernandez launder money. Márquez has denied the allegations and is currently with his team in Russia, but his presence has put FIFA and Mexico’s soccer federation in a tough spot as they try to avoid violating the U.S. sanctions.
Those sanctions make it illegal for any American business, bank, or individual to associate with Márquez in any way. What exactly would qualify as a violating of the sanctions is tough to discern, and The New York Times reports FIFA and Mexico are handling Márquez’s presence at the World Cup with an overabundance of caution. Not only have they been careful to keep Márquez away from logos of American-based World Cup sponsors—he is not allowed to drink from branded water bottles—they have also made sure that he will not be staying at any hotels with American connections. They have even gone so far as to ensure that he won’t be around any American FIFA employees:
FIFA also has taken measures to pre-empt contact between Márquez and any of its employees who are American citizens. For instance, if Márquez appears at a news conference that FIFA arranges, the moderator should not be an American.
This all feels pretty silly, but you can’t blame them for being overly cautious, given the potential punishments they could face. According to the Times, companies that violate these sanctions, even on accident, can be fined $1.5 million per incident.