The disappearance of a Spanish man traveling to Qatar to participate in the 2022 World Cup in Iran

The disappearance of a Spanish man traveling to Qatar to participate in the 2022 World Cup in Iran

On Monday, his household mentioned that the Spanish man who was touring from Madrid to Doha for the 2022 World Cup has not been heard from for the reason that day after he crossed the border into Iran three weeks in the past, elevating fears about his destiny in a rustic in nice turmoil.

The skilled late, former paratrooper and avid soccer fan, 41-year-old Santiago Sanchez, was final seen in Iraq after touring 15 nations and extensively sharing his journey on the favored Instagram account for the previous 9 months.

Sanchez’s household final heard about him on October 2, the day after he crossed the Iraq-Iran border.

“We’re so anxious, we will not cease crying, my husband and I,” his mom, Celia Cuggedor, advised The Related Press.

Santiago, the daddy of Cujedor and Sanchez, sat by the hearth within the household’s dwelling in a small village in central Spain. Apparently exhausted, the couple shared with journalists the final cherished audio message that their son despatched them that morning, allegedly from Iranian territory, detailing his future plans.

“I am with a good friend who got here to select me up,” mentioned Sanchez’s calm voice. “I will Bandar Abbas, 1,700 kilometers (1,056 miles) south of Iran, close to the island of Hormuz.”

The Spanish adventurer defined how he deliberate to go to the Iranian capital, Tehran, the subsequent day, the place a tv station wished to interview him. His subsequent step was Bandar Abbas, a port in southern Iran the place he would soar on a ship to Qatar. However all his traces evaporated even earlier than he reached Tehran, his mother and father imagine.

Sanchez had already warned his household earlier than crossing into Iran that communication wouldn’t be as simple because it had been in earlier months.

“After a number of days we did not fear about him not posting, what he mentioned matched up. However after 8 or 9 days, my daughter and his shut associates…we actually began pondering we should always report him lacking,” his mom mentioned.

His mother and father reported him lacking on October 17, and mentioned the police and Spanish diplomats have been serving to the household.

The Spanish Overseas Ministry mentioned it had no info on Sanchez’s whereabouts, including that the Spanish ambassador in Tehran was accountable for the matter. Calls to the Iranian Overseas Ministry searching for remark weren’t instantly answered.

This was not Sanchez’s first time in Iran. In 2019, he took the same path to get from Madrid to Saudi Arabia.

His mother and father are happy with his adventurous spirit and say his solely objectives are to assist others and promote the Actual Madrid soccer workforce.

And so they mentioned, “He didn’t make propaganda, neither for nor in opposition to any place. The one factor that motivates him is the help of Actual Madrid, and his stroll to achieve the World Cup in Qatar in time.”

Sanchez’s reported disappearance in Iran comes as protesters throughout the Islamic Republic are mounting the biggest anti-government motion in additional than a decade. The demonstrations have been triggered on September 16 by the demise of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old girl who was detained by Iran’s morality police for allegedly not adhering to the nation’s strict Islamic gown code.

Tehran has violently cracked down on protesters and blamed overseas enemies and Kurdish teams in Iraq for fomenting unrest, with out offering proof. Iran’s Intelligence Ministry mentioned authorities had arrested 9 foreigners, largely Europeans, over their alleged hyperlinks to protests final month. Analysts say Westerners and twin nationals are more and more turning into pawns in Iran’s inside political struggles and in tensions between Tehran and Western capitals, with no less than a dozen twin nationals arrested in recent times on disputed espionage costs.

Sanchez arrived in Iraqi Kurdistan in late September, having traveled hundreds of kilometers carrying a small suitcase in a wheeled cart, full of a tent, water purification tablets and a gasoline range for 11 months on the street. He mentioned he wished to understand how others lived earlier than arriving in Qatar, the primary nation to host the World Cup within the Arab world, in time for Spain’s first match on November 23.

A picture taken on October 15, 2022 reveals a view of the Qatari capital, Doha, because the Gulf emirate prepares for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. (Picture by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP) (Picture by GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP by way of Getty Photos)

“The concept of ​​the journey is to inspire and encourage others to point out that they’ll go very far with little or no,” he advised The Related Press of Sulaymaniyah, a Kurdish metropolis in northeastern Iraq.

The day earlier than his disappearance, Sanchez had breakfast with a tour information in Sulaymaniyah. The information, who spoke on situation of anonymity for worry of reprisals, mentioned he tried to warn Sanchez concerning the harmful political state of affairs in Iran.

Protests in Iran’s Kurdish area after Amini’s demise sparked unrest throughout the nation that continues to roil Iran. In response, Iranian forces did Unleash drone and artillery attacks Concentrating on Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq.

However the information mentioned Sanchez had not faltered in his confidence.

He mentioned, “He did not appear nervous in any respect. He advised me, I’ve sorted every little thing out, don’t be concerned.”

The information added that Sanchez had deliberate to fulfill an Iranian household within the Kurdish city of Marivan, which has witnessed anti-government protests lately. The household, cheering Sanchez’s Instagram posts, provided to host him.

The information mentioned that after Sanchez crossed the border on October 1, his messages grew to become few and obscure. Sanchez advised him that issues are “very totally different” in Iran than in Sulaymaniyah, an Iraqi metropolis filled with parks and cafes.

In his final letter, he learn: “It was a protracted story.”

In his newest Instagram replace, the night time earlier than he crossed the Iranian border, he posted footage of his emotional farewell to Iraq and advised of the generosity of a Kurdish household. He was planning to camp on a mountain, however the proprietor of a close-by farm greeted him, giving him a mattress, a bathe, and a hearty dinner.

Photos on Instagram present him consuming bread and hen soup, smiling and posing with village boys and ingesting tea over an open hearth.

Conclusion: books. Lose your self to seek out your self.


Debre reported from Jerusalem. Related Press author Salar Salem contributes from Erbil, Iraq.

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