Photograph by Manoocher
Sports are back in this stadium in Kabul, which used to be a site for executions and amputations under the Taliban. In an effort to bring normalcy back to Afghanistan, AÏNA set up a live broadcast of this year's World Cup soccer games here.
Even playing soccer signifies freedom in post-Taliban Afghanistan. Two years ago the Taliban arrested 12 Pakistani soccer players on the grounds that they were wearing shorts and punished them by shaving their heads. The Pakistanis were visiting Kandahar for a series of "friendly" matches. The Taliban sports minister later said the arrests should not have happened, though he did add that the Taliban also had been on the receiving end of punishments for their appearance. He claimed that the year before, Pakistan had banned the Taliban's team from a tournament because of their beards.