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 By Tom Marshall

Rafa Marquez trains for Mexico without any sponsorship logos on gear

Progressing from the last six World Cup group stages, Mexico have no issues starting the tournament well, but can they progress in the knockout stages in Russia?

Rafa Marquez may be heading to his fifth World Cup, but it appears he'll be doing so without being allowed to parade Mexico national team sponsorship on his clothing.

The 39-year-old was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department last August and Marquez's availability for Russia 2018 was put into doubt following the allegations that he had links to a drug trafficking organization.

Marquez appeared in Thursday's training session at the Mexican federation's complex just outside of Mexico City without any of the brands that sponsor El Tri on his gear. Some of the sponsors are corporations based in the United States, where Mexico has a huge fan-base.

The Mexican Football Federation released a statement regarding Marquez later on Thursday: "In order that Rafa Marquez can be 100 percent focused on sport and knowing the personal issue that he is going through ... we have consulted with different experts and decided to take actions that, as we understand, won't harm or involve actions that could damage Rafa Marquez or the Mexican Football Federation (FMF)."

Marquez faced a legal battle to put himself in a position to be able to be picked for the national team and it appears that coach Juan Carlos Osorio and the federation is willing to make sacrifices to enable the former Barcelona defender to be available in Russia.

"I think I've earned [the call-up] through hard work," said Marquez in a recent interview with ESPN's John Sutcliffe. "Being 39 years old and being able to maintain the form that I've always tried to show has come through a lot of sweat and sacrifice.

"Obviously all the experience I've built up and everything I've learned from a football sense, tactically and technically has helped me to earn the trust that [Osorio] has in me.

"Sometimes he asks me my opinions and that means a lot, you feel important to the coach and that's how [Pep] Guardiola made me feel when he arrived at Barcelona."

Marquez is almost certainly not going to be in the United States for Mexico's friendly on May 28 against Wales at the Rose Bowl.

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

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