Colombian footballer Luis Diaz has begged the rebel group which kidnapped his parents to release his father after scoring a late equaliser for Liverpool upon his return to action for the English Premier League club.
Diaz had missed Liverpool’s last two matches but had been training since Thursday, and was selected on the bench for the match against Luton on Sunday.
He entered the game in the 83rd minute as a late substitute and scored in the fifth minute of stoppage time to secure a 1-1 draw for his team at Kenilworth Road.
After scoring the goal, he lifted his Liverpool shirt to reveal a white shirt that read “Libertad Para Papa”, or Freedom For Papa.
Diaz followed that up with a social media post after the match.
It read: “Today the footballer is not speaking to you. Today Lucho Diaz, the son of Luis Manuel Diaz, is speaking to you. Mane, my dad, is a tireless worker, a pillar in the family and he has been kidnapped. I ask the ELN for the prompt release of my father, and I ask international organizations to work together for his freedom.”
Colombia’s government said the armed rebel group the National Liberation Army, known as ELN, was responsible for last weekend’s kidnapping.
Both of Diaz’s parents were kidnapped in the small Colombian town of Barrancas on October 28, although his mother was rescued within hours by police.
The peace delegation of the government, which is currently in negotiations with ELN, said in a statement on Thursday that it was “officially aware” that the kidnapping had been “perpetrated by a unit that belongs to ELN”.
Diaz said his family’s anguish has been growing “every second, every minute” since his father’s kidnapping.
“My mother, my brothers and I are desperate, distressed and without words to describe what we are feeling. This suffering will only end when we have him back home. I beg you to release him immediately, respecting his integrity and ending this painful wait as soon as possible.”
Ahead of the match, Liverpool manager said Diaz was “fine” during the team’s training sessions.
“All the signs he gets, as far as I understand, are very positive,” Jurgen Klopp said about the situation regarding Diaz’s father.
“Negotiations are ongoing but still positive and that’s why [Diaz] wanted to be part of the team.”