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Cricket Australia expect Khawaja to follow rules on political messages

Usman Khawaja top scored for Australia with 85.

Usman Khawaja,
Photo: Photosport

Cricket Australia are backing Usman Khawaja’s right to express his support for the people of Gaza but expect him to conform to International Cricket Council rules banning displays on his playing equipment.

Batter Khawaja had the messages “Freedom is a human right” and “All lives are equal” written on his boots in the colours of the Palestinian flag at training ahead of the first test against Pakistan in Perth starting on Thursday.

According to Australian media reports, the Pakistan-born opener intends to wear the boots during the match, which starts at Perth Stadium on Thursday.

“We support the right of our players to express personal opinions, but the ICC has rules in place which prohibit the display of personal messages which we expect the players to uphold,” Cricket Australia said in a statement.

Israel’s ongoing assault on Gaza in response to the deadly cross-border attacks by Hamas in October has killed at least 18,205 Palestinians, according to the Gaza health ministry.

The ICC Code of Conduct forbids players wearing, displaying or conveying messages through arm bands or other items on clothing or equipment without prior approval.

Messages related to political, religious or racial activities or causes are not allowed.

England batsman Moeen Ali, who like Khawaja is a Muslim with Pakistani heritage, was banned by the ICC in 2014 from wearing wristbands featuring the slogans “Save Gaza” and “Free Palestine”.

England captain Joe Root and spinner Moeen Ali

England player Moeen Ali.
Photo: Photosport

The ICC did, however, allow players to “take the knee” before international matches in support of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement in 2020 and 2021.

There was no immediate reply to a request for comment on the matter from the ICC.

Australia’s Sports Minister Anika Wells, however, gave Khawaja her full backing.

“I have always advocated for athletes having the right to a voice and to speak up on matters important to them,” she told local media.

“Usman Khawaja is a great athlete and a great Australian. He should have every right to speak up on matters that are important to him.

“He has done so in a peaceful and respectful way. He has done so as an individual and expressed an individual opinion that does not compromise the Australian cricket team’s obligations to the ICC.”


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