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Usman Khawaja has declared his intention to challenge the ICC’s decision to ban his shoe slogan.


Usman Khawaja has pledged to fight a decision by the ICC to bar him from displaying human rights messages on his shoes while representing Australia this summer in support of people in Gaza.

Khawaja was seen wearing Nike shoes at practice on Tuesday with the phrases “all lives are equal” and “freedom is a human right” written on them. The team’s captain, Pat Cummins, stated that Khawaja will not wear those shoes during the first Test against Pakistan in Perth this Thursday.

Afterwards, Khawaja shared a video on his social media platform stating his determination to continue his efforts as a “humanitarian appeal”.

“I have been informed by the ICC that I am not allowed to wear my shoes on the field, as they believe it may be viewed as a political statement according to their guidelines. However, I do not share this belief. While I will respect their perspective and decision, I will also challenge it and seek approval.”

Earlier today, Cummins expressed his agreement with Khawaja’s position, but also stated that the shoes would not be worn during the Test.

“I had a brief conversation with him and he stated that he will not be wearing them,” Cummins informed the reporters. “This brought up the ICC regulations, which I am not sure if Uzzie was aware of beforehand. I am aware that the ICC rules are very particular when it comes to writing.”

Uzzie prefers not to cause a commotion. He had the phrase “all lives are equal” on his shoes, which I believe is not controversial. I don’t think anyone would have many objections to that.

Four days ago, Khawaja posted a Unicef video on Instagram that focused on Gaza. In the comment section, they questioned whether people are indifferent to the loss of innocent lives or if it is based on their skin color or religion. They stated that these factors should not matter if one truly believes in equality.

If Khawaja, the initial Muslim athlete to represent Australia, had donned the footwear during the forthcoming Test, it would have violated ICC regulations and potentially led to a suspension, penalty, or official reprimand.

Earlier today, Cricket Australia issued a statement stating that they support the players’ right to share personal opinions. However, they also mentioned the ICC rules that prohibit the display of personal messages, which they expect the players to comply with.

Khawaja addressed individuals who were offended by his gesture in a video on social media. He posed thought-provoking questions, such as whether freedom is not applicable to all and if all lives are not valued equally.

He mentioned that he received multiple calls from individuals who were offended. He clarified that he was not taking any sides and that all human lives hold equal value to him, regardless of religion. He believes in speaking up for those who are unable to do so themselves.

He expressed feeling inferior to others during his childhood, but fortunately, he never experienced a life or death situation due to this inequality.

Cummins expressed his enthusiasm for creating a welcoming atmosphere where everyone is free to share their ideas. He admires the individual perspectives of each team member, considering it a great asset.

“You encourage each person to bring their unique selves to the team. And as I mentioned, I agree with the message on the shoes – all lives are equal. I stand behind that.”

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Previously, federal sports minister Anika Wells appeared to imply that the ICC would permit Khawaja’s action.

“As the federal minister of sports, I have consistently supported athletes’ right to have a voice and express their opinions on matters that are important to them,” Wells stated.

Usman Khawaja is an exceptional sportsman and a proud representative of Australia. He has the right to voice his opinions on issues that hold significance to him, and he has done so in a calm and courteous manner.

As an individual, he has expressed his own opinion without affecting the Australian cricket team’s responsibilities to the ICC.

The ICC has previously levied penalties for exhibiting what it considers to be political statements. In 2014, during a Test match against India in Southampton, England’s Moeen Ali was prohibited from wearing wristbands that displayed “Save Gaza” and “Free Palestine.”

Initially, England had given their approval for the wristbands. However, the ICC’s match referee, Australian David Boon, overruled this decision.

According to the most recent guidelines and laws of the ICC, it is important to consider whether a message pertains to a political, religious, or racial cause. The ICC and its members recognize and support the idea that cricket can be a unifying force for people and communities globally, and should not be used as a means to highlight divisive political matters, rhetoric, or agendas.

During his pre-match press conference, Cummins stated that there will be no unexpected changes in the lineup for the match against Pakistan. Nathan Lyon, who was previously sidelined with a calf injury, will be returning to the team in place of Todd Murphy. Mitchell Marsh will also retain his position as the all-rounder, beating out Cameron Green for the spot.

The Australian team for the match consists of David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Mitch Marsh, Alex Carey, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins as captain, Nathan Lyon, and Josh Hazlewood.

Source: theguardian.com