Football fever

Rafael Marquez, former Barcelona defender and Mexico captain, accused of drug cartel ties: Report

The 38-year-old was one of the 21 people singled out by the US treasury department for sanctions.

Mexico and former FC Barcelona star Rafael Marquez is dubbed “The Boss” for his leadership of the national football team – but now the United States has branded him a drug criminal. No other Mexican player has won more titles and he is widely considered second only to Hugo Sanchez as the country’s best player ever.

Marquez, who voluntarily reported Wednesday to the Mexican Justice Ministry, denied any involvement. “I categorically deny any type of relationship with said organization and the referred events,” the football star said in a message to reporters from his club, Atlas de Guadalajara.

Now 38 and still scoring goals, “Rafa,” as he is known to fans, was one of a generation of Mexican players hailed as “boy heroes” in the 1990s. He made his professional debut in 1996 – not long before Sanchez’s retirement – with Atlas de Guadalajara and first played for the national team the following year. While playing for Mexico against Chile in a Copa America game in 1999, he caught the eye of a scout for French side AC Monaco.

“I went to the Copa America to see a Chilean player. But I spotted a defender in the Mexican side that I liked,” said scout Julien Muller. Thus began Marquez’s march to the top flight of European football, leading to two Champions League titles with Barcelona. “I have great memories of the Copa America. The first one I played in gave me the chance to make myself known and to go to Europe,” he said in 2015.

‘Amazing’ presence

His first 11-year spell in Europe included a victory with Barcelona in the Champions League final against Arsenal in 2006. He returned briefly to Europe in the 2014-’15 season to play for Hellas Verona in Italy. He later played for the New York Red Bulls and then for Leon in Mexico, winning a league title, before returning in 2016 to Atlas, where he still plays.

“Having Rafael Marquez on the team is amazing,” said Atlas Argentine defender Facundo Erpen. “He is an open book to everyone. Anyone can ask him things and learn from him constantly.” Marquez has captained Mexico in four World Cups. Still potent despite injuries, he scored the winning goal in the 89th minute of a 2-1 World Cup qualifier victory over the United States last November.

Mexico’s current coach, Juan Carlos Osorio of Colombia, had said recently that he intended to take Marquez to next year’s World Cup in Russia. “We hope that Rafael is still fit” for that challenge, he said. Scandal struck on Wednesday however when the US Treasury accused Marquez of being a “front person” for a major drug trafficking ring. He was one of 22 people and 43 entities the Treasury placed on a sanctions list in relation to a Guadalajara-based cartel.

The Treasury said Marquez has a “longstanding relationship” with cartel boss Raul Flores Hernandez and held assets on his drug cartel’s behalf.

Fans shocked

Marquez was the top trending topic in Mexico on Twitter on Wednesday. The country is used to news of violence and corruption related to its powerful drug gangs. But football fans expressed shock and disbelief at Wednesday’s news about their sporting hero. “This is really bad, because he is a role model for children,” said Fernando, a young man in a Barcelona shirt.

Another fan in the streets of Mexico City, shoeshine man Mario Rodriguez, said the allegation was “absurd, nonsense.” One of Marquez’s co-accused, well-known Mexican singer Julion Alvarez, rushed to the defense of his “great friend.” “He’s got one of the longest careers in football. Do you really think he would need to do something like this?” he said in a video posted on Facebook.

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Top picks, best deals and all that you need to know for the Amazon Great Indian Festival

We’ve done the hard work so you can get right to what you want amongst the 40,000+ offers across 4 days.

The Great Indian Festival (21st-24th September) by Amazon is back and it’s more tempting than ever. This edition will cater to everyone, with offers on a range of products from electronics, home appliances, apparel for men and women, personal care, toys, pet products, gourmet foods, gardening accessories and more. With such overwhelming choice of products and a dozen types of offers, it’s not the easiest to find the best deals in time to buy before your find gets sold out. You need a strategy to make sure you avail the best deals. Here’s your guide on how to make the most out of the Great Indian Festival:

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Big discounts and top picks

The Great Indian Festival is especially a bonanza for those looking to buy electronics and home appliances. Consumers can enjoy a minimum of 25% off on washing machines, 20% off on refrigerators and 20% off on microwaves, besides deals on other appliances. Expect up to 40% off on TVs, along with No-Cost EMI and up to Rs 20,000 off on exchange.

Home Appliances

Our top picks for washing machines are Haier 5.8 Kg Fully Automatic Top Loading at 32% off, and Bosch Fully Automatic Front Loading 6 Kg and 7 Kg, both available at 27% discount. Morphy Richards 20 L Microwave Oven will be available at a discount of 38%.

Our favorite pick on refrigerators is the large-sized Samsung 545 L at 26% off so you can save Rs 22,710.

There are big savings to be made on UV water purifiers as well (up to 35% off), while several 5-star ACs from big brands will be available at greater than 30% discount. Our top pick is the Carrier 1.5 Ton 5-star split AC at 32% off.

Also those looking to upgrade their TV to a smart one can get Rs. 20,000 off by exchanging it for the Sony Bravia 108cm Android TV.

Personal Electronics

There’s good news for Apple fans. The Apple MacBook Air 13.3-inch Laptop 2017 will be available at Rs 55,990, while the iPad will be available at 20% off. Laptops from Lenovo, Dell and HP will be available in the discount range of 20% to 26%. Top deals are Lenovo Tab3 and Yoga Tab at 41% to 38% off. Apple fans wishing to upgrade to the latest in wearable technology can enjoy Rs 8,000 off on the Apple Watch series 2 smartwatch. For those of you just looking for a high quality fitness tracker, the Fitbit Charge has Rs. 4500 off on 22nd September.

If you’re looking for mobile phones, our top deal pick is the LG V20 at Rs 24,999, more than Rs 5000 off from its pre-sale price.

Power banks always come in handy. Check out the Lenovo 13000 mAh power bank at 30% off.

Home printers are a good investment for frequent flyers and those with kids at home. The discounted prices of home printers at the festival means you will never worry about boarding passes and ID documents again. The HP Deskjet basic printer will be available for Rs 1,579 at 40% off and multi-function (printer/ scanner/ Wi-Fi enabled) printers from HP Deskjet and Canon will also available at 33% off.

The sale is a great time to buy Amazon’s native products. Kindle E-readers and Fire TV Stick will be on sale with offers worth Rs 5,000 and Rs 1,000 respectively.

The Amazon Fire Stick
The Amazon Fire Stick

For those of you who have a bottomless collection of movies, music and photos, there is up to 60% off on hard drives and other storage devices. Our top picks are Rs 15,000 and Rs 12,000 off on Seagate Slim 5TB and 4TB hard drives respectively, available from 8.00am to 4.00pm on 21st September.

The sale will see great discounts of up to 60% off on headphones and speakers from the top brands. The 40% off on Bose QC 25 Headphones is our favourite. Top deals are on Logitech speakers with Logitech Z506 Surround Sound 5.1 multimedia Speakers at 60% off and the super compact JBL Go Portable Speaker at 56% off!

Other noteworthy deals

Cameras (up to 55% off) and camera accessories such as tripods, flash lights etc. are available at a good discount. Home surveillance cameras too will be cheaper. These include bullet cameras, dome cameras, simulated cameras, spy cameras and trail and game cameras.

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Interesting finds

While Amazon is extremely convenient for need-based shopping and daily essentials, it is also full of hidden treasures. During the festival, you can find deals on telescopes, polaroid cameras, smoothie makers, gym equipment, gaming consoles and more. So you’ll be able to allow yourself some indulgences!

Small shopping

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Check-out process and payment options

Amazon is also offering an entire ecosystem to make shopping more convenient and hassle-free. For the festival duration, Amazon is offering No-Cost EMIs (zero interest EMIs) on consumer durables, appliances and smartphones, plus exchange schemes and easy installation services in 65 cities. HDFC card holders can avail additional 10% cashback on HDFC credit and debit cards. Customers will also get to “Buy Now and Pay in 2018” with HDFC Credit Cards, as the bank offers a 3 Month EMI Holiday during the days of the sale. Use Amazon Pay balance for fast and easy checkouts, quicker refunds and a secured shopping experience.

Sales are fun and with The Great Indian Festival offering big deals on big brands, it definitely calls for at least window shopping. There’s so much more than the above categories, like minimum 50% off on American Tourister luggage! To start the treasure hunt, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Amazon.in and not by the Scroll editorial team.