Usman Australia’s Usman Khawaja was reprimanded by the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Thursday for sporting a black armband after the global body’s rules prevented him from wearing shoes with messages of support for Gaza in a Test against Pakistan.
Khawaja had the messages “Freedom is a human right” and “All lives are equal” on his boots in the colours of the Palestinian flag during training before the opening Test of the three-match series last week, which the hosts won by 360 runs in Perth.
The Pakistan-born opener intended to wear the boots in the game, according to Australian media reports, but was unable to do so under ICC regulations that prohibit messages related to political, religious or racial activities or causes.
He instead wore a black armband and the ICC said he was in breach its Clothing and Equipment Regulations.
“Usman displayed a personal message (armband) during the first test match against Pakistan without seeking the prior approval of Cricket Australia and the ICC to display it, as required in the regulations for personal messages,” an ICC spokesperson said.
“This is a breach under the category of an ‘other breach’ and the sanction for a first offence is a reprimand.”
Khawaja, who scored 41 and 90 in the first Test, had said he believes the statements on his shoes in support of the people of Gaza were not political and vowed to fight the ICC.
Israel’s ongoing assault on Gaza in response to the deadly Oct. 7 cross-border attack by Hamas has killed thousands of Palestinians.
England all-rounder Moeen Ali, who like Khawaja is a Muslim with Pakistani heritage, was banned by the ICC in 2014 from wearing wristbands featuring the slogans “Save Gaza” and “Free Palestine”.
The ICC did, however, allow players to “take the knee” before international matches in support of the “Black Lives Matter” movement in 2020 and 2021.
The second Test begins on Dec. 26.
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