Football in fear? What Luis Diaz’s family kidnap ordeal means for the beautiful game

Luis Diaz’s family is the latest victim in a long history of criminals and rebel groups targeting footballers

It was a few hours before what should have been a fairly routine Europa League match against Toulouse, and the Liverpool squad were relaxing and conserving energy in their usual pre-match venue of the city’s Titanic Hotel.

The mood soon shifted as the talented and popular left-winger Luis Diaz was called away in serious, hushed tones, and the rest of the players were given the shocking news: the Colombian star’s parents – Cilenis Marulanda and Luis Manuel Diaz – had been abducted in his home country, after being stopped by gunmen on motorbikes.

Diaz, naturally, flew straight back home, where his mother was soon rescued by a police operation in the city of Barrancas. His father remains in captivity, as a guerilla group called “Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional” (ELN) claimed responsibility. They had been in peace talks with the Colombian government.

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