When he came off the bench with just over 15 minutes to go in Mexico's opening game of the World Cup against Germany on Sunday, Rafa Marquez became the third player ever to play at five tournaments.
It was a momentous moment for Marquez, though not one widely celebrated. The 39-year-old's inclusion in the Mexico squad was actually in doubt going into the tournament. That owes to a murky legal situation involving the US Department of Treasury.
Marquez is on a US blacklist as they have accused the former Barcelona defender of helping launder money for drug cartels. Businesses connected to Marquez have been accused of acting as a front for a suspected drug trafficker. He has strenuously denied the accusations.
According to The New York Times, the 146-cap international featuring on the list means that American businesses are prohibited from being associated with him. There are costly fines for any American company found to be in breach of regulations by US authorities.
It's said that Marquez cannot drink from the same branded water bottles as his teammates. Neither can he wear the same training apparel. He sometimes does not stay in the same location as the rest of the Mexican camp as there could be American links.
The Man of the Match award, which is sponsored by Budweiser, could prove to be a tricky dance for FIFA as it is decided by supporters. Marquez can reportedly be interviewed after games - just as long as it's in a location free from sponsors' logos.
Mexican officials had to perform some tricky maneuvers just to get Marquez to Russia - he was not allowed travel on any American airlines.
"We take seriously the actions of the U.S. Treasury Department, and we have structured our World Cup operations so as not to violate U.S. sanctions laws," the Mexican Football Federation said recently in a statement.
You can read about the Marquez situation in the New York Times.
Picture credit: Shutterstock.com