Taliban show footballers the red card over legs

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The Independent Online

Afghan religious police arrested Pakistani footballers during a game and shaved their heads because they were wearing shorts.

Afghan religious police arrested Pakistani footballers during a game and shaved their heads because they were wearing shorts.

The arrests were made in Kandahar, headquarters of the hardline Taliban militia, during the final match of a series between Pakistani and Afghan clubs. Five of the Pakistani club's 17-member squad escaped arrest. One took refuge in the Pakistani consulate.

A Taliban spokesman said: "They were arrested because they violated the Islamic dress code."

Not everyone agreed with the arrests: Maulvi Mohammed Hasan, the Taliban governor of Kandahar, apologised. "They were our guests and shouldn't be treated like this," he said.

The incident caused a stampede in the stadium, where several hundred people were watching the match. Scores of spectators were injured, according to a Pakistani newspaper report. The Pakistani players were released on Sunday and turned over to their consulate.

The Taliban requires sportsmen to wear baggy trousers and a long tunic. Nor are shorts or short-sleeve shirts allowed to be worn in public.

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