The mystery of the fan walking to Qatar for the World Cup: he disappeared after 4500 km

World Cup Qatar 2022, latest news

Santiago Sanchez is the 41-year-old trekker, ex-paratrooper, who left Spain to arrive in Qatar on November 23 to see the Red Furies match at the World Cup. But on the way something happened to him: “I’ve solved everything… don’t worry…”.

Author: Maurizio De Santis

Santiago Sanchez is the Spanish fan who disappeared in Iran while trying to reach Qatar for the World Cup.

World Cup Qatar 2022, latest news

Santiago Sanches He hasn’t heard from himself in three weeks and his family is anxious. Nobody knows where he is, what happened to him, what his health conditions are. The Spanish fan who walked more than 4,500 kilometers disappeared into thin air as soon as he set foot in Iran. He arrived there after crossing 15 countries with the date and destination marked on the travel map: Qatar, November 23. Why exactly that day? Then the Red Furies will play the first match of the World Cup which this edition will take place in winter and in the Arab state.

Passionate (and expert) in trekking, ex-paracudista, the 41-year-old Iberian citizen, a Real fan, left Madrid to carry out his feat and, as he revealed to the Associated Press journalist who met him in Sulaymaniyya (in Iraq), “show how you can go so far with so little”. It brings with it the basic essentials that are necessary for survival and to move without difficulty. He had a small suitcase on a wheeled cart that also contained a tent for the night, water purification tablets, and a handy camping-type gas stove.

The 41-year-old trekker's father, a former paratrooper, shows his son's latest written and audio message.
The 41-year-old trekker’s father, a former paratrooper, shows his son’s latest written and audio message.

On the eve of his disappearance, Sánchez had breakfast with a guide who warned him of the dangers of the current political situation in Iran. “He didn’t seem worried at all – revealed the man -. He told me: I’ve solved everything, don’t worry”. They spoke using only google translate to make the dialogue more direct and immediate, but in the text he noticed something strange. “Your messages became less and less frequent and strange…”. Why? He explained that there were things “they were very different” and concluded with an enigmatic “It’s been a long story.”

Sanchez's parents officially reported his disappearance to authorities on October 17.
Sanchez’s parents officially reported his disappearance to authorities on October 17.

Since October 2, after the last audio message to his loved ones, Sanchez has cut off contact. “The country is ‘hot’ and there are no communications”wrote to his father in the Oct. 1 sentence, possibly referring to the disturbances and the government’s blackout of any streaming signals to (also) obstruct the protesters’ communications.

Sanchez had recently crossed the border with Iran and had marked in his notebook an important appointment: to arrive in the capital, Tehran, where he would be waiting for a television crew to interview him to tell his story and the impressions gathered in the long pilgrimages, from Europe to Asia, to the Persian Gulf.

His disappearance was officially reported to the authorities. The diplomatic and investigative machine has already been activated, but so far it has not given any news. Where have you been? But in his travel plan he would have to go to Bandar Abbas, a port city in southern Iran, and there he would have to embark for Qatar. But suddenly he disappeared.

Absolute silence is a harbinger of evil thoughts. Celia Cogedor, his mother, confessed to the AP how painful this situation is: “My husband and I can’t stop crying. We are very worried.”. Anything could have happened to the Spanish fan, from the kidnapping hypothesis to the simpler one that an illness could have been fatal. The black hole of information it has been sucked into arouses harrowing emotions.

In his latest Instagram post, Sanchez shared photos from his last stop in northern Iraq and said he would stay “spend the night there before crossing Iran, where a family awaits me who discovered my journey and wanted to share a day with me”. A detail that coincides with what was told by the guide, the person who saw and heard him for the last time: he was on his way to the Kurdish city of Marivan, scene of violent protests against the government.

He didn’t sleep outside but – as we read in the last social update – he benefited from the generosity of a Kurdish family: he had planned to camp in the mountains but was offered a hot meal and a bed, the opportunity to shower and spend the night in a farm.

The Spanish national covered more than 4,500 kilometers, the last person who saw him was a guide just before crossing the border between Iraq and Iran.
The Spanish national covered more than 4,500 kilometers, the last person who saw him was a guide just before crossing the border between Iraq and Iran.

“A road with a lot of dust and terrain on the sides, I see trees – reads the post on Instagram -, I approach to check and when I decide to camp I see a woman in the background and I think… ? I raise my arm and greet ‘salam aleikum’. I approach the door of the plot and with the photos that indicate my tent I tell him that I’m going to sleep here. It doesn’t take 5 minutes when a man arrives, makes a phone call and after a while the owners of the farm arrive to offer me hospitality”.

In the photo he eats bread and chicken soup, smiles and poses with the village boys, drinks tea in front of the fire. “Travel but don’t run away from anything but yourself. Lose yourself to find yourself”, was the last reflection that accompanied this message. Then he disappeared into thin air.

Source: Fan Page IT