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It is a humanitarian appeal: Khawaja talks about messages on his shoes

Last updated on 13 Dec 2023 | 07:35 AM
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It is a humanitarian appeal: Khawaja talks about messages on his shoes

The International Cricket Council (ICC) banned any political messages in their guidelines for players’ clothing and gear

On Tuesday (November 12), Australian opener Usman Khawaja was seen sporting the messages "all lives are equal" and "freedom is a human right” on his spikes, which led to a huge cry. Over the last few months, Khawaja has been highly vocal about the war in Gaza, posting updates on human-right violations in the region. 

However, ICC regulations are strict about "non-compliant" wording or logos worn on clothing during international matches. Most famously, the English all-rounder Moeen Ali was asked to remove his wristbands, which had the messages “Save Gaza” and “Free Palestine,” during a Test in 2014. 

"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’s statement read.

"I think what was on the shoes, 'all lives are equal', I support that,” Pat Cummins said in the pre-match press conference, stating he lives by that message. 

In the aftermath of that, the Australian opener came out with a message on the social media platform ‘X’. 

“But what I do want is for the people who got offended, ask yourself these questions: Is freedom not for everyone, are all lives not equal? it doesn’t matter to me what religion, race or ethnicity you are. Let’s be honest about it: if me saying that all lives are equal, leading to people being offended, isn’t that the bigger problem? 

“You will be shocked at how many people feel this way. What I wrote on my shoe isn’t political. I’m not taking sides, human right to me is equal. One Jewish life is equal to one Muslim life and a Hindu life, and so on. I’m speaking for those who don’t have a choice. This is close to my heart. When I see innocent people die, I imagine my two girls, what if it was them? No one chooses where they are born. 

“When the world turns its back on them, I can’t take it. I have never lived in a world with a lack of inequality, whether life or death. Did the ICC say that I can’t wear my shoes on the field because it is a political message as per their guidelines? I don’t believe it is so, it is a humanitarian appeal. I will respect their view, but I will fight it to seek approval. Freedom is a human right.” 

The ICC acknowledges the sport can be used as a tool to "bring people and communities around the world together" but "not as a platform to draw attention to potentially divisive political issues, rhetoric or agendas".

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