‘Freedom is the right of all people’, ‘All lives are equal’ – this was written on the shoes of Usman Khawaja. In the first match of the three-test series against Pakistan, Australia is coming to Perth tomorrow, before that, there was a lot of discussion about why there was such a writing on the shoes of the Pakistani-born Australian opener in practice!
It is not difficult to understand, Khawaja wrote the words while standing by hundreds of innocent Palestinians in the conflict between Israel and Palestine over the occupation of Gaza. The Australian opener said he will wear the shoes with the message in the first Test.
Well, that’s the fuss! Khawaja was reminded that such ‘political speech’ is banned in the field under ICC rules. There have even been demands to drop Khawaja from the first Test squad. However, after all the controversy, Khawaja has changed his mind, he is not going to the field tomorrow wearing shoes with the message written on the side of Gaza.
The Australian cricket governing body Cricket Australia (CA) has issued a statement regarding the viral image of Khawaja’s shoe and the subsequent controversy. It reads, ‘We support the right of players to express their personal opinions. However, the ICC has some rules regarding the display of personal ideology on the field. We want the player (Khawaja) to show due respect to them.’
Australian captain Pat Cummins was also asked about this in the press conference. At that time, it was learned from Cummins that after talking to him, Khawaja backed away from the decision to enter the field wearing shoes with that message on them.
‘Had a short talk with Usir (Khwaja) today. I don’t think he wanted to make such a fuss about it. But we support him. He said he wouldn’t take the field after (the message shoe)’ – Cummins said at the press conference.
It was learned from Cummins that Khawaja changed his mind after learning that there is a ban on this message in the ICC rules, ‘After that article, there was talk about the ICC rules… I don’t know if he (Khawaja) knew those rules beforehand or not. On his shoe was written “All souls are equal.” I didn’t find this writing too divisive. I don’t see anyone complaining too much about it.’
What are the ICC rules?
According to the ICC rules, ‘the display of anything on players’ jerseys or equipment which is in conflict with these rules is prohibited.’ What is written in the rules? ‘In particular, no logo other than the national logo, commercial logo, event logo, manufacturer’s logo, player’s bat logo, charity logo or non-commercial logo may be displayed on cricket jerseys or equipment.’
What will happen if this rule is violated, it is also stated in the ICC rules, ‘If the match official finds that any jersey or equipment does not comply with these rules, he will have the power until the jersey or equipment that violates the rule is removed or covered. It is provided, until then, that player is not allowed to enter the field (or if it seems appropriate to give instructions from the field).’