Iranians flesh out the World Cup

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TEHRAN (Reuter, AFP) - Iranian television viewers were surprised to see spectators wearing winter coats during the first World Cup match played on Friday in Chicago in sweltering heat. While the players were obviously suffering, spectators on the terraces seemed remarkably comfortable in their fur coats, hats and gloves.

If Iranians suspected a plot, they would have been right, only this time the culprits were not the CIA but civil servants working for Iranian television. The authorities wanted to take no chances with corrupting Western influences and decided to take precautions with the first World Cup match to be broadcast live since the 1979 revolution.

So they cut in pre-recorded footage of correctly dressed fans every time the camera pointed to the terraces, apparently to avoid showing women in shorts and low-cut tops. Unfortunately, no one told Tehran producers that people in Chicago do not wear gloves in June.

Iranian officials insist they did the right thing. 'The correction of un-Islamic scenes is possible with several seconds of delay, which is not a problem,' an adviser to the director of Iran's radio and television said.

World Cup reports, pages 37-39

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