Usman Khawaja, an Australian cricketer, promised Wednesday to challenge a ban on him wearing shoes during a match emphasizing the misery of people in Gaza, claiming it was a “humanitarian appeal” rather than a political message.
The 36-year-old opening batsman had handwritten words “Freedom is a human right” and “All lives are equal” on his sneakers during training this week.
Khawaja, a Muslim, intended to wear the shoes for the first Test against Pakistan, his native country, which begins on Thursday in Perth.
However, the International Cricket Council prohibits any political, religious, or racial themes from being broadcast during matches.
“Isn’t liberty not for everyone?” “Are not all lives equal?” Khawaja later stated in an emotional video message posted on social media.
“It doesn’t matter to me what color, religion, or culture you are. I’m simply standing up for people who lack a voice.
“The ICC has told me that I cannot wear my shoes on the field because they believe it is a political statement in violation of their rules.”
“I don’t believe it is so — it’s a humanitarian appeal,” he said.
“I will respect their view and decision but I will fight it and seek to gain approval.”
Cricket Australia has stated that it supports the players’ right to express themselves.
“But the ICC has rules in place which prohibit the display of personal messages, which we expect the players to uphold,” the association said in a statement.
Khawaja shared a video from the children’s organization UNICEF from Gaza on Instagram four days ago.
“Do people not care about innocent humans being killed?” he said in the post.
“Or is it their skin color that makes them less important?” Or the religion they follow?”
Khawaja underlined the strong reaction to his stance in various quarters in his message on Wednesday.
“But let’s be honest about it, if me saying all lives are equal has resulted in people being offended to the point where they’re calling me up and telling me off, well isn’t that the bigger problem?” he went on to remark.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) banned England all-rounder Moeen Ali from wearing wristbands with the words “Save Gaza” and “Free Palestine” during a home Test in 2014.
Anika Wells, Australia’s Sports Minister, stated that Khawaja’s sneakers did not violate any guidelines.
“I think he did it in a peaceful and respectful manner,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald.