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Friday, February 19, 1999 Published at 21:38 GMT

World: Americas

Ransom demanded in soccer case

Jorge Campos: In action in the US Major Soccer League

Kidnappers holding the father of Mexico's star goalkeeper Jorge Campos have reportedly demanded a one million dollar ransom.

A group of men armed with assault rifles abducted Alvaro Campos on Wednesday at a football field named after his son near the Pacific resort town of Acapulco.

[ image: Mr Campos offered kidnappers a blank cheque]
Mr Campos offered kidnappers a blank cheque
Witnesses say Mr Campos, 65, offered his kidnappers a blank cheque to leave him alone, but they took him away in a truck which was later found abandoned.

Jorge Campos, one of Mexico's most flamboyant players, has flown home from a tournament in Hong Kong to plead for his father's release.

"I insist that the main thing in this case is that they respect the life of my father," the sports daily Ovaciones quoted him saying.

[ image: A worried Jorge flew home following the news]
A worried Jorge flew home following the news
The footballer, who represented his country in the France 98 and US 94 World Cups, met officials from the attorney general's office shortly after his arrival, according to local news reports.

A friend, Ricardo Jimenez Anaya, said Mr Campos senior, known affectionately as "El Nono'' or "The Grandpa", had received threatening phone calls last year, but dismissed them as hoaxes.

"El Nono told all of us, his family and his friends, that he had received some phone calls since December in which they threatened to kidnap him, but he said those were jokes," he added.

Jorge Campos regularly stars in TV commercials and has become almost as well known for his brightly coloured kits, which he designs himself, as for his goalkeeping talents.

High profile kidnappings

There have been numerous kidnappings in the region in recent years but Mr Campos is by far the highest profile victim.

Police in Acapulco have refused to comment on the case.

Mexico's most wanted kidnapper, Daniel Arizmendi, known for cutting off victims' ears, was captured in August. But abductions have not abated.

In September, Mexican "ranchero" singer Vicente Fernandez paid $3.2m to free his son from kidnappers who held him for four months and cut off two of his fingers.

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