GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- Mexico star Rafa Marquez may have been given the green light to play in Liga MX for Atlas, but his international future and a fifth World Cup are still far from certain following the U.S. treasury sanctions imposed on Aug. 9.
Marquez played for Mexico at the Confederations Cup in Russia last summer, and was featuring regularly for Atlas in the 2017 Apertura before his name appeared on a list linking him to a drug trafficking organization.
The former Barcelona defender denied any connection and immediately stopped playing, but surprisingly returned to the bench for Atlas in Wednesday's Copa MX game against Chivas. He could play for the first time since the sanction when Atlas face Queretaro on Saturday in Liga MX.
But getting back into the Mexican national team will be complicated, with his lawyer telling ESPN that Marquez -- a Mexican and Spanish citizen -- can't currently play in the United States.
"Rafa can play football whenever a Mexican entity is providing the services and [the pay] is in Mexican pesos ... he can play anywhere in the world apart from the United States," said lawyer Jose Luis Nasser on Thursday.
Mexico is scheduled to play four games in the United States in 2018 ahead of the World Cup, as an integral part of preparation for the tournament, at which Marquez could become the first player in the history of the men's World Cup to captain a team at five tournaments.
But even aside from Marquez not being allowed to travel to the United States, ESPN Mexico is reporting that the Mexican federation's relationship with American companies, such as Coca Cola, may complicate the issue, something Marquez's lawyer admitted is still unclear.
"The question of the national team is complicated," said Nasser. "We have to speak to people in the Mexican football federation so they understand that it is a Mexican entity and that it shouldn't be mixed in with the subject of sponsors.
"After we've spoken to the federation, in my opinion, he could play the World Cup and the Mexican national team," added the lawyer.
Mexico head coach Juan Carlos Osorio said in an interview with Marca Claro on Thursday that Marquez will be taken into consideration if he starts playing.
"For this call-up [against Belgium and Poland in Europe next month] he will not be called because he doesn't fill the requirements because he wasn't training, then he was marginalized [from the field], but in the future he could be taken into account," said Osorio.