x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Brazilian own goal

The story of the Brazilian football club asking supporters to stop dressing up as Taliban to "show their warrior spirit" tells us that we have many things in the world to discover.

Brazil is a long way away. So far away, it appears, that people there think the Taliban might be a fine symbol for a football club. To its credit the Fluminense Football Club, Brazil's current champions, have asked supporters to stop dressing up as Taliban members and posting photos online.

The fad began a week ago after the side, based in the Laranjeiras neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro, lost an away match to a local Ecuadorean club. Some supporters then went online and urged others to "show their warrior spirit" by posing in Taliban-style attire.

To be sure, rowdy sports-club supporters in many countries have done far worse things. Nonetheless, the brutal, sinister Taliban should not be anyone's idea of a role model. Denouncing the dress-up campaign, Fluminense management noted in a statement on Saturday that the Taliban "are terrorists and not healthy warriors".

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once wrote of a lost world, a land of prehistoric creatures that survives somewhere on the border of Brazil and Bolivia. Perhaps we've found it - at Fluminense's Maracana stadium? What other explanation could there be for people to be so out of touch with the times?