Colombia: Luis Diaz’s father to be handed to UN officials by kidnappers

The father of Liverpool winger Luis Diaz is set to be released by Colombian rebel group Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional (ELN) in the near future.

Luis Manuel Diaz and his wife Cilenis Marulanda were abducted by armed gunman on October 28, though the latter was released shortly afterwards.

Due to such distress, Diaz sat out Liverpool’s recent wins against Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth, making his return in Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Luton Town. The 26-year-old scored a 95th-minute equaliser and celebrated by revealing a shirt with the words “Freedom for Papa” in Spanish.

The ELN warned soon after this match that the release of Diaz Sr was at risk due to the presence of government security officials.

But major Colombian outlet Carocol report that ELN have agreed to free him soon and will hand him over to officials from the United Nations “in compliance with last-minute protocols acquired with the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace.”

Following his goal at Luton, Diaz made an impassioned plea to ELN to release his father, stating: “Here’s not the player speaking. Today’s Lucho Diaz, the son of Luis Manuel Diaz. Mane, my dad, hard working man, family pillar…he’s now kidnapped.

“I ask ELN to release my father as soon as possible. I also ask the international associations to work on that in order to guarantee his freedom.

“Every second, every minute we’re more worried. We’ve no words to describe our family’s terrible feelings, and it will be the same as long as he’s not back at home.

“I beg you to release my father right now, respecting his integrity.

“I want to thank to all Colombians and also the international community for your support.”

Liverpool teammate Alisson praised how Diaz had dealt with the situation himself, telling Sky Sports: “It says a lot about his character, about his inner strength. Not many people [can] imagine what he is going [through], even as we are close to him, of course we are supporting him.

“We feel his pain but for him it’s a different level. Football sometimes in dark moments can bring joy to people, can bring joy to somebody who is struggling. And I think football is bringing a slice of joy to Lucho at this time.

“We are together with him for whatever he needs, to take his time. He came, trained, came to the game, scored a fantastic goal for us that was really important. We are with him 100 per cent. Football always surprises, in a good way sometimes. It happened with me when I was going through a really difficult moment and happened today and happened other times for other people.

“When you are on the pitch you are focused on doing the job, I think he was focused on doing this, trying to help the team to get the points. And he did that for us.”

What we know

  • Luis Diaz’s parents were kidnapped on October 28
  • His mother Cilenis Marulanda was released but his father Luis Manuel Diaz remains missing
  • Colombian rebels responsible for kidnap have agreed to hand him to UN officials.

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