The father of Liverpool winger Luís Díaz has been released after being kidnapped by a guerilla group last month, the Colombian government announced on Thursday.
@infopresidencia informa la liberación de Luis Manuel Díaz, padre del futbolista Luis Díaz. Fue recibido por miembros de la @MisionONUCol y la Conferencia Episcopal.
El #GobiernoDelCambio hace un llamado a la Paz y a la Vida en Colombia. pic.twitter.com/AxUKodN2vj
— Presidencia Colombia 🇨🇴 (@infopresidencia) November 9, 2023
From the Colombian Football Federation (translated):
The Colombian Football Federation thanks the National Government, the Military Forces and the National Police, as well as all the institutions and officials that made the release of Luís Manuel Díaz, father of our player Luís Díaz, possible.
Football as a sporting discipline symbolizes 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.
Football is passion in peace. Let no one ever think of attacking that reality again!
Luís Manuel Díaz and his wife, Cilenis Marulanda, were kidnapped by members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) at a gas station near the family's hometown of Barrancas on Oct. 28. Marulanda was rescued later that day after police set up roadblocks, but Díaz's father remained missing, which led to a search by special forces and a $48,000 reward for information leading to Díaz Sr.'s recovery.
Díaz did not play for Liverpool during wins over Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth, but returned to the pitch for their 1-1 draw with Luton Town on Nov. 5. It was his goal in the 95th minute that rescued a point for the Reds. During the celebrations, Díaz pulled up his jersey, revealing a shirt that read, "Libertad para papa," which translates to "Freedom for dad" in English.
According to the Associated Press, the ELN took credit for the kidnapping of Díaz Sr., but said it had been a mistake and the group's top leadership ordered his release.
An ELN statement Sunday said that the planned release was hampered by military deployments in northern Colombia and that it couldn’t guarantee a safe release under those circumstances. The Colombian military said Monday that it was shifting its positions to facilitate a release.
The National Liberation Army, known locally as Ejército de Liberación Nacional, is classified as a foreign terrorist group by the U.S. State Department and has existed in Colombia since its founding by communist leaders in 1964, with a membership currently numbering in the thousands.