The banner featuring the banned shoe slogans of Usman Khawaja has been taken down in Perth.
The security team at Optus Stadium removed a banner with the same words written on Usman Khawaja’s shoes during the first Test match between Australia and Pakistan.
The International Cricket Council prohibited Khawaja from wearing shoes with the words “all lives are equal” and “freedom is a human right” on the playing field prior to the game.
The experienced starter had intended to showcase the messages following the escalating humanitarian emergency in Gaza. However, he chose to wear a black armband and cover up the inscriptions on his shoes.
On Sunday, the problem reappeared when a customer at a venue in Perth was noticed by security for displaying a banner with identical words. The banner, which was over five meters long, was hung on the fifth floor railing at the southern end of the venue.
The spectator garnered more notice by reciting pro-Palestine chants, prompting security to swiftly remove the banner and escort the individual out of the arena. Other attendees were also escorted out of the location.
Optus Stadium stated that a sign was taken down because it violated Cricket Australia’s rules for entry. The statement also clarified that certain attendees were removed due to disruptive conduct, not because of the sign.
During the Australia vs West Indies Test match at Optus Stadium last summer, security removed a banner that read “Justice for JL”. The banner was displayed by a group of young fans in support of Justin Langer, who had resigned as Australia’s coach after being offered a six-month contract renewal.
The current circumstances were much more severe, considering the significant number of casualties in the Middle East. Prior to the Test against Pakistan, Khawaja posted on social media to clarify his decision to speak up about the tragic loss of innocent lives.
Khawaja expressed on social media that this issue is very personal to him. He shared his thoughts on the thousands of innocent children who are dying without any consequences or regret, and he can’t help but think of his own daughters. He reflects on the fact that no one gets to choose where they are born.
Todd Greenberg, the CEO of the Australian Cricketers’ Association, commented that Khawaja handled the issue with his shoes in a professional and mature manner. He also stated that the ACA will back Khawaja in his efforts to obtain approval from the ICC to wear the shoes in upcoming matches.
Greenberg shared with SEN that there seems to be a preference in society for athletes and public figures to express their opinions, but only if those opinions align with their own.
“I believe it is more beneficial to witness genuine individuals, such as Uzzie, in action. If he chooses to advocate for a specific cause, we will stand behind him. Our desire is for our athletes to be role models and for others to admire them.”
In order to achieve this, it is crucial that they are genuine and consistently demonstrate this, not only in simple matters, but perhaps even more importantly in challenging ones.