The players of a Pakistani football team who were arrested by Taliban and also their heads were shaved as punishment for wearing shorts in Kandahar. AFP photo

Taliban arrest soccer players for wearing shorts

BBC News

By Owen Bennett-Jones in Islamabad
July 17, 2000

A Pakistani football team that went to play some matches in the Afghan city of Kandahar has returned home after being arrested for wearing shorts.

The Taleban authorities said the wearing of shorts during a match violated the Islamic dress code.

The players were not only arrested, but also had their heads shaved as punishment.

The Pakistani team, from the border town of Chaman, had gone to Kandahar for a series of friendly matches.

On Saturday, they were in the middle of their third match, when the Taleban authorities moved into the stadium arresting 12 members of the squad.

Another five Pakistani players managed to escape.

But the 12 who were detained had their heads shaved as punishment before being sent back to Pakistan.

They are now back in their homes in Chaman. Pakistani officials there have refused to comment on the incident.

Reports from Kandahar say that several spectators were injured in a stampede that followed the arrests.

The Taleban have frequently been criticised by Western governments and non-governmental organisations for enforcing strict rules on what women must wear.

They have been criticised in particular for the requirement that women cover their heads and faces.

But as these arrests show, there are also rules which apply to men.

The Taleban have banned men from wearing western clothes and a display of flesh, even in a sporting event, can be considered a punishable offence.

According to Annova (7/17/00) Maulvi Hameed Akhund, a Taliban official, said: "They were arrested because they violated the Islamic dress code, which outlaws exposing any parts of the body."

h t t p : / / w w w . r a w a . o r g