A Spanish trekker who had planned to walk from Spain to Qatar in order to attend the 2022 FIFA World Cup has gone missing after entering Iran on Sunday, Oct. 2, increasing worries from his family regarding the man’s safety.

Santiago Sánchez, the 41-year-old trekker who had crossed over 15 countries in his journey to trek from Spain to Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, was last seen crossing Iran on Oct. 2 at the Iraq-Iran border, reportedly not being able to reach the capital city of Tehran as first planned, according to the AP News.

Sánchez’s journey was popular on social media, especially with how he meticulously shared his trekking adventure on his Instagram page. There were plans for a television interview once he reached Tehran that never materialized when he disappeared so suddenly, Fox News reported.

“We are deeply worried, we can’t stop crying, my husband and I,” Celia Cogedor, his mother, told the press, who said that Sánchez had warned them at first that he might be uncontactable for a few days while he crossed the country. “After a few days we didn’t worry about him not posting, it matched what he had said. But after 8 or 9 days, my daughter and his closest friends ... we already began to think that we had to report his disappearance,” she said.

The timing of Sánchez’s entry into Iran was seen as dangerous by many due to the protests related to women’s rights spreading across the country and the crackdown that the government has done to keep the dissidents down. A guide that Sánchez had met in Sulaymaniyah in northeastern Iraq the day before he disappeared had warned him about the situation in Iran. “He didn’t look nervous at all. He told me, ‘I sorted out everything, don’t worry,’” the guide said, adding that Sánchez felt confident about his chances.

As Iran continues to blame the West for the protests in Iran, foreign nationals have been arrested due to their alleged links to the protests that have been happening. Spain’s Foreign Ministry said that the Spanish Ambassador to Iran has been attempting to handle the matter much better in order to find the whereabouts of the influencer. The Iranian Foreign Ministry has not responded to questions about the matter.

“He has not been making propaganda, neither for nor against any situation. The only thing that moves him is supporting Real Madrid, and walking to get on time to the World Cup in Qatar,” his parents said.

Trekker Goes Missing in Iran Rep. Pic
A Spanish man who planned to trek from Spain to Qatar in order to attend the 2022 FIFA World Cup has been missing for three weeks after entering Iran on October 2. This is a representational image. Neil Webb/Unsplash.

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