NEW YORK – Red Bulls midfielder Rafael Márquez took to Mexican national television to explain his side of the story in a dispute with the Mexican soccer federation that has captured the sports headlines south of the border.
Márquez, who is the current Mexican national-team captain, conducted an interview on the TV Azteca show Marcaje Personal on Tuesday and took ownership of the letter that was sent via e-mail to the national federation on behalf of 12 other high-profile players.
[inline_node:318748]In the letter, the players requested not to be called up again until there are changes in the way the national team is managed, specifically pointing a finger at the director of national-team programs, Néstor de la Torre.
“We want everyone to know that we are not going to allow ourselves to be stepped on,” Márquez told TV Azteca. “[The Mexican Federation] have never listened to us or asked us and we are totally unprotected. They have cast doubt on us in front of everyone.”
It was de la Torre who announced sanctions to 13 players, including Márquez, for holding a party in the team hotel following the match against Colombia on Sept. 7 in Monterrey. The discipline handed down included fines for 11 players, including Márquez, and six-month suspensions for Arsenal’s Carlos Vela and Celtic’s Efraín Juárez.
The letter, published in its entirety in Mexican daily Record, refers to de la Torre as “arrogant,” with the players taking particular offense as to how they were portrayed to the media and general public after the party.
“I think he put himself in a serious problem,” Márquez said of de la Torre. “If it’s an internal rule that we breached, it should have been handled internally.”
On Wednesday, the secretary general of the Mexican federation, Decio de María, confirmed he received the letter last week and was adamant that any conversations with Márquez and the other players would not involve the removal of de la Torre from his position.
De María also indicated that the dissenting players will likely still be called up for the Oct. 12 match against Venezuela in Ciudad Juárez. Whether the players answer the call-up, however, is another story.
“No one sits at a table with conditions and Néstor de la Torre is the director of national teams and his head is not on the negotiating table,” de María said. “The problem can be resolved, everything can be resolved except death, but without conditions.”
In his TV Azteca interview, Márquez addressed other topics, including that he felt offended at not being named captain for the inaugural 2010 World Cup match against South Africa.
He also indicated that he would be interested in future years to propose a plan to the federation’s owners' committee in a quest to gain complete power to change the structure of Mexican soccer.
The national-team controversy has also been fueled by the comments of Chivas de Guadalajara and Chivas USA owner Jorge Vergara, who sides with de la Torre and the Mexican federation. Vergara stated that a player who refuses a national team call-up should never be called up again.