In a significant development, Colombian authorities launched an extensive search on Sunday for Luis Manuel Diaz, the father of Liverpool winger Luis Diaz. Diaz was reportedly kidnapped along with his wife, who has since been found.
Over 120 soldiers and police officers combed the northern regions of Colombia in the search. The army deployed roadblocks, motorized platoons, unmanned aircraft, helicopters, and radar-equipped planes in an extensive operation to locate Diaz’s father.
Although official details about the kidnapping are scarce, local media reports suggest that the footballer’s parents were abducted by armed individuals on motorcycles at a gas station in Barrancas, their hometown located in La Guajira department.
President Gustavo Petro announced that all public forces had been mobilized to aid in the search. National Police Director General William Rene Salamanca revealed a reward of up to 200 million pesos (approximately £40,000) for information leading to the father’s whereabouts.
Attorney General Francisco Barbosa, after contacting Luis Diaz twice, informed him of the possibility that his father might be in Venezuela, a situation that may necessitate intervention by President Petro.
The alarming incident prompted Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp to dedicate the team’s 3-0 Premier League victory over Nottingham Forest to Diaz. Teammate Diogo Jota, displaying solidarity, held up Diaz’s number seven shirt after scoring the game’s first goal.
Liverpool FC issued a statement prior to the game, acknowledging the ongoing situation and emphasizing that Diaz’s welfare remains their immediate priority.
Vanessa Buschschluter, Latin America and Caribbean editor, provided analysis on the context of kidnappings in Colombia. The country, historically plagued by kidnappings, has seen a significant reduction since 2000. However, recent statistics show an alarming uptick, with 161 kidnappings in the first half of 2023, a significant increase from the previous year. Many of these incidents, particularly in border areas like where Diaz’s parents were reportedly taken, are driven by ransom demands.
Diaz’s father, an amateur coach, is credited with contributing significantly to his son’s rise in football. The 26-year-old footballer, hailing from the Wayuu Indigenous community, has remained silent on the events.