Celebrities are often abused on social media, but Brazilian supermodel Fernanda Lima got more than her share after she hosted last week's draw for next year's World Cup soccer tournament.
Lima assisted a FIFA official in pulling the names of countries out of a bowl and sorting them into groups. That's probably not controversial — unless you happen to live in a conservative country, like Iran.
The problem: Fernanda Lima was wearing a tight, gold-colored dress with a rather revealing neckline — not a big thing in Brazil and elsewhere. The outfit was quite popular with many viewers around the world.
There were lots of positive comments on social media. But in Iran, it was a completely different story.
The Islamic Republic doesn't allow women deemed to be dressed immodestly on television, so every time the camera focused on Lima, the picture was dropped on Iranian TV.
This made for terrible viewing for Iranian soccer fans waiting to find out who Iran was going to be playing at the World Cup.
So, who do Iranians blame for this debacle? Lima or FIFA? The many abusive messages left on Lima’s Facebook page seem to suggest they are blaming her.
Comments ranged from insults to suggestions she should have worn a hijab, so everybody around the globe could watch the draw.
The abuse got so bad Lima had to take down her Facebook page. But then, a lot of Iranians started to apologize for the abuse, saying Iranians are not really like this. This, in turn, triggered posts by Brazilians saying, not to worry, Iranians are still welcome in Brazil.
And, by the way, Lima wasn’t the only target of Iranian ire. Iran ended up in the same group as Argentina. That proved reason enough for Internet trolls to pay Argentina soccer super star Lionel Messi’s Facebook page a visit, with unsportsman-like comments.
Again, some Iranians felt compelled to apologize. There’s even a Facebook page for doing just that.
That page has more than 40,000 likes now.