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OFAC red cards Mexican footballer Marquez

Tom Fox | August 13, 2017

What will FIFA, the U.S. Soccer Federation and the Mexico national soccer team (El Tres) do now that the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has added Rafael Márquez, to its Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list for acting as a front for and holding assets of a drug trafficking organization? On August 9, Márquez, a Mexican footballer who plays for the club Atlas as well as for the Mexican national team, was added to the Treasury Department's black list, along with his soccer school, his charitable foundation and several other businesses linked to him. Why? For allegedly providing support to and/or being a front for Mesican drug kingpin Raúl Flores Hernández. Márquez denies the allegations.

The most immediate effect is that all Márquez’ assets within U.S. jurisdiction have been frozen. The longer-term effects are not as clear, however, but certain the proscription of U.S. person from dealing with persons on the SDN list is clear as it is listed on the Department of Treasury’s website describing the SDN list.  Does this mean Márquez will not be able to play for the Mexican national team or be allowed to play for any U.S. teams in Major League Soccer? An equally intriguing issue is the tripartite bid by the U.S., Mexican, and Canadian national soccer federations to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup in the Northern Hemisphere of the Americas.

But the listing, which one commentator likened to “kryptonite” in terms of the impact it had on the person who received such a designation also prevents much more mundane commercial activities which has a U.S. touch point, such as life insurance or payments which might go through the U.S. banking system. American companies who sponsor Márquez’ home team or even the Mexican national team in any way may now be prevented from doing so. Perhaps teammates or even rivals may be prevented from joining Marquez on the field may now be prevented from doing so. like so many red cards in soccer, this is likely to provoke heated and lengthy argument. Stay tuned.