Liverpool footballer Luis Díaz's father released by Colombian guerrilla group

Liverpool footballer Luis Díaz's father released by Colombian guerrilla group
Klopp and Luis Diaz share moment as player calls for kidnappers to …
NBC Sports

The father of Liverpool footballer Luis Díaz has been released by kidnappers after he was taken 13 days ago, the Columbian Football Federation has confirmed.

Luis Manuel Díaz was captured by guerrilla group National Liberation Army, also known as the ELN, at a petrol station in the family’s hometown of Barrancas, Columbia, on 29 October.

The ELN handed him over to United Nations and Catholic church officials on 9 November. The footballer’s mother was also kidnapped in the incident but she was rescued hours later after police set up roadblocks.

It comes after the Liverpool striker scored a late equaliser against Luton on Sunday before revealing a message underneath his shirt which said: “Libertad Para Papa [Freedom for Dad]”.

After his release, Díaz’s father was taken by military helicopter to Valledupar, a city in Columbia, to have a medical examination before rejoining his family.

Local media quoted authorities as saying he was in good health with no signs of mistreatment.

Newspaper El Tiempo reported that family members in their local neighbourhood were driving their cars through the streets in celebration, many dressed in Liverpool shirts with the number 23 and Luis Díaz’s name.

The government’s negotiating force with the ELN said in a statement that the kidnapping “should never have happened”.

“The current process with the ELN has advanced like no other until today.

“Regardless, our delegation considers that the kidnapping of Luis Manuel Díaz has placed our dialogue in a critical situation and because of it, the time has come to take decisions to eliminate kidnapping.”

The ELN, Columbia’s biggest active rebel guerrilla group, has been fighting the state since 1964 and has an estimated 2,500 members.

Its leaders said on 2 November that it would free the 56-year-old, but Díaz’s family, Colombians and football fans across the world were left waiting for news of his freedom for almost another week.

The Columbian FA said: “Football as a sporting discipline symbolises talent, dedication, teamwork and the intrinsic values of human beings.

“In Colombia it must continue to be a benchmark for entertainment, healthy competition, unity and joy.

“Therefore, we insist on the need to maintain this activity, as well as those who are involved in it, in the sporting and administrative part and their families, outside of any scenario other than sports.

“Behind a ball, the dreams and illusions of boys and girls, young people, women, men and adult soccer players, their loved ones and an entire country roll.

The Colombian president Gustavo Petro added: “Long live freedom and peace”.

Liverpool Football Club said in a statement on social media: “We are delighted by the news of @LuisFDiaz19’s father’s safe return and we thank all those involved in securing his release.”

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