Mexico defender Rafa Marquez given green light to play at fifth World Cup sources

Mexican legend Rafa Marquez sits down with ESPN to discuss his lengthy career and the possibility of playing in a fifth World Cup before retiring.

GUADALAJARA, Mexico — Mexico legend Rafael Marquez will be allowed to play at the upcoming World Cup, with sources telling ESPN Mexico on Friday that the Mexican federation has given him the green light to be picked.

Marquez had been a regular in coach Juan Carlos Osorio’s squads before allegations by the U.S. Treasury last August that he had links with a drug trafficking organisation. Before those allegations, he had seemed set to participate in his fifth World Cup, but hasn’t been called up to the Mexico national team since the Confederations Cup in Russia last summer.

The 39-year-old temporarily put his playing career with club side Atlas and the national team on hold to fight the charges, but returned on the bench for Atlas in October.

Marquez is hoping to retire after Russia 2018 and played his farewell home game at the Estadio Jalisco for Atlas on Friday, with Los Rojinegros defeating local rivals Chivas 1-0.

A giant Marquez tifo was unfurled by fans before the game and the former Barcelona player — looking to become the first player in history to captain a side at five World Cups — completed the 90 minutes.

Atlas play away at Pachuca in the final weekend of regular season games in the Liga MX Clausura and that will be the last game in Marquez’s club career.

Mexico coach Osorio has previously indicated he is keen to take Marquez to the World Cup if the player is in form and condition, but there is yet to be an official statement from the federation to indicate he has no legal impediment to travelling and playing.

Marquez stressed after the game that he hadn’t had any notification about whether he can go to the World Cup, but he still believes it is possible.

“I’ve not had news yet.” Marquez said in a news conference. “I’d maybe like something more official from the federation, from those in charge.”

“Until I see something official then I’ll maintain the same hope that I can be at the World Cup and until the last moment that they have to decide I’ll keep dreaming.”

Tom Marshall covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @MexicoWorldCup.