Rafa Marquez returned to Atlas training Monday, though the veteran defender's return to competitive action is still unlikely after the U.S. Department of Treasury sanctioned him in August.
The department's Office of Foreign Assets Control named Marquez as a frontman for alleged cartel leader Raul Flores Hernandez, a designation that, while not being charged with a crime, makes it difficult for Marquez to work or travel. The 38-year-old was back on the training ground Monday, and was thrilled to be back.
"Thankful to my team Atlas for their confidence and support," Marquez tweeted. "Happy to start this week in this way with a lot of #4ctitud," he continued, using his traditional hashtag that translates to "attitude."
Despite Marquez's return to the training field, the player is locked in a legal battle as he looks to prove his claim of innocence. Still, Monday was a step in the right direction for Marquez and his camp.
"It's a very important step," Marquez's lawyer Jose Luis Nassar, told MarcaClaro Radio. "Of course, we couldn't have done it without the support of the club and we're making progress in both Rafa's legal and professional (situations)."
Nassar said he and Marquez hoped he can return to the field but didn't want to get ahead of himself by saying Marquez would suit up any time soon. He also noted that Atlas is not paying Marquez during this time but the former Monaco, Barcelona and New York Red Bulls player is happy to be able to take his mind off his legal woes.
"He's very happy. He's very aware that it's step by step and he's thankful for the opportunity and happy for the progress being made," Nassar said.
Atlas has supported Marquez since the designation was made, with the team lining up in Marquez shirts prior to their first match after the OFAC announced its decision.
"Atlas FC has been waiting on the player’s situation, letting him know that at all times he and his family have our support," read a club statement released Monday. "We hope that in the same way that he’s returning to training, the situation he’s going through results in a favorable resolution."
It's a club in need of a boost, with the Foxes sitting last in the relegation table after Saturday's loss to first-place Monterrey. They take on crosstown rival Chivas in Copa MX play this week before hosting Morelia in league play Friday.