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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Australian cricketer barred him from wearing shoes deemed “political”

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has barred him from wearing shoes bearing messages deemed "political."

Australian cricketer Usman Khawaja has found himself in the spotlight for a cause beyond the boundary ropes. The International Cricket Council (ICC) has barred him from wearing shoes bearing messages deemed “political” during the upcoming Test against Pakistan. Khawaja, the first Muslim cricketer to represent Australia, has responded with a vow to challenge this directive, arguing that the messages on his shoes are a humanitarian appeal for equality and human rights.

Shoes That Speak

During a training session in Perth, Khawaja donned spikes featuring the phrases “all lives are equal” and “freedom is a human right.” These messages were chosen as a show of solidarity with the Palestinians enduring the consequences of Israel’s war on Gaza. The two-month-long campaign has resulted in the tragic loss of more than 18,500 Palestinian lives, many of them women and children, according to Palestinian officials.

Read More: UN General Assembly Demands Ceasefire in Gaza

Humanitarian Appeal

Khawaja, a proud advocate for equality and human rights, planned to wear these symbolic shoes during the first Test. However, ICC rules give the match referee the authority to prevent players from taking the field if their attire is deemed to violate regulations. While Khawaja has accepted the ICC’s decision for now, he remains committed to overturning it, expressing his intention to wear the shoes during Melbourne’s Boxing Day Test.

Taking a Stand on Social Media

Using his platform, Khawaja took to social media to share his perspective. He stated, “The ICC have told me I can’t wear my shoes on the field because they believe it’s a political statement under their guidelines. I don’t believe it is so; it’s a humanitarian appeal. I will respect their view and decision, but I will fight it and seek to gain approval.”

Message Behind the Shoes

Khawaja clarified the motivation behind his choice of footwear, emphasising that the message is not political but rather a stand for equality and human rights. He said, “What I’ve written on my shoes isn’t political; I’m not taking sides. Human life, to me, is equal. I’m just speaking up for those who don’t have a voice.”

Support from Teammates

Khawaja’s stance has not gone unnoticed by his teammates. Australia’s vice-captain, Travis Head, showed solidarity on social media, posting, “We stand with Usman Khawaja! All lives are Equal.” Captain Pat Cummins echoed this sentiment, stating, “Uzzie doesn’t want to make too big of a fuss. On his shoes, he had, ‘All lives are equal.’ I think that’s not very divisive. I don’t think anyone can really have too many complaints about that.”

Read More: Israel begins pumping seawater into tunnels in Gaza: Report

This is not the first time the ICC has stepped in to prevent players from making what it deems to be political statements. In 2014, England’s Moeen Ali was banned from wearing “Save Gaza” and “Free Palestine” wristbands in a Test against India. The recurrent clash between players’ desire to express their views and the ICC’s regulations raises questions about the balance between individual expression and maintaining the apolitical nature of the sport.