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World Cup can be bad for your health

Islamic courts in Somalia have banned people from watching soccer on television believing it to be against Muslim teaching.

india Updated: Jun 12, 2006 18:03 IST

From Mogadishu to Kabul to Baghdad, watching the World Cup is proving to be bad for your health.

Sometimes it's fatal.

Hardline Islamic courts in the Somali capital have banned people from watching the action in Germany on television believing it to be against Muslim teaching.

In a brief but violent protest, two people were killed as gunmen, reportedly allied to the Joint Islamic Courts, forced three cinema halls to shut and warned football lovers against watching the matches which were being relayed through satellite.

"The Islamic courts have ordered the closure of three cinema halls," said Sukahola resident Abdulaziz Hanad.

"They want to make sure that nobody in Mogadishu watches the World Cup."

In war-torn Baghdad, many Iraqis feared they would miss out on the spectacle as the country's public broadcaster had no retransmission rights and the cost of subscriptions are beyond the means of many.

"I can't buy a decoder for the Arab channel that is showing all the matches," said student Mustafa Abdel Sattar.

For 175 dollars (135 euros), subscribers receive a special package that includes all 64 matches broadcast by the ART channel.

In Afghanistan, the 10,000-strong NATO force can watch the games on cinema-style screens at the International Security Assistance Force headquarters (ISAF) in Kabul.

German soldiers were to first to test-run the facility by watching their team's 4-2 win over Costa Rica on Friday 5,000 kilometres (3,000 miles) from where the match was being played in Munich.

They were some of the 200 NATO soldiers -- German, French, British, Macedonian, Turkish and Swiss -- who gathered in the Wolves' Den bar in Camp Warehouse to watch a live transmission of the match.

It's a scenario, which would have been impossible five years ago when the Taliban banned television and initially outlawed football.

They relented, but insisted that players wore trousers and sleeves and ordered them to stop for prayers during matches.

Supporters were forbidden to cheer.

On Indonesia's Java Island, where 5,800 people died in May's earthquake, locals were also trying to get access to World Cup television coverage.

Football fan Faturohman said the prospect of missing out on the tournament would be painful.

"I'm ruined. The electricity in this area is only enough for lights. We can't watch TV and besides that, my set was flattened by rubble from my house," said the 19-year-old whose favourite player is England striker Michael Owen.

"People in this area really love to watch soccer. Watching the World Cup would be entertainment for us while we are still grieving from the earthquake."

Elsewhere, there are other dangers.

Three Kenyans, hoisting a television antenna to watch the World Cup, were electrocuted and nearly killed when they accidentally hit a high-voltage power line in Nairobi.

First Published: Jun 12, 2006 16:32 IST