Cricket Australia stated on Wednesday that they respect Usman Khawaja’s freedom to express his support for the people of Gaza but expect him to follow International Cricket Council (ICC) guidelines that prohibit displays on his playing equipment.
During Tuesday’s practice for the first test against Pakistan, Batter Khawaja had the slogans “Freedom is a human right” and “All lives are equal” imprinted on his boots in the colors of the Palestinian flag.
According to Australian media reports, the Pakistan-born opener planned to wear the boots for the match, which begins on Thursday at Perth Stadium.
“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,” according to a statement issued by Cricket Australia.
“I spoke to him just quickly and he said he won’t be,” Australia captain Pat Cummins told reporters on Wednesday.
“I just drew attention to the ICC rules, which I’m not sure if Uzzie (Khawaja) was aware of beforehand.”
“Uzzie doesn’t want to make too big of a fuss.”
According to the Gaza health ministry, Israel’s ongoing assault on Gaza in response to Hamas’s deadly cross-border strikes on Oct. 7 has killed at least 18,205 Palestinians.
Without prior consent, players are prohibited from wearing, exhibiting, or transmitting messages through arm bands or other things on clothes or equipment under the ICC Code of Conduct.
Political, religious, or racial activities or causes are not permitted.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) banned England batsman Moeen Ali from wearing wristbands with the inscriptions “Save Gaza” and “Free Palestine” in 2014.
In support of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, the ICC did allow players to “take the knee” before international matches in 2020 and 2021.
The ICC did not respond immediately to a request for comment on the subject.
Anika Wells, Australia’s Sports Minister, has given Khawaja her complete support.
“I have always advocated for athletes having the right to a voice and to speak up on matters important to them,” she told the press at the time.
“Usman Khawaja is a fantastic athlete and a fantastic Australian.” He should have the right to express himself on issues that are important to him.
“He has done so in a calm and respectful manner.” He has done so as an individual, and his opinion does not jeopardize the Australian cricket team’s commitments to the ICC.”