MELBOURNE, Australia: Australia’s premier batsman, Usman Khawaja, faced a setback in his bid to promote a message of peace during the Boxing Day Test against Pakistan.
Reports surfaced on Sunday revealing that the International Cricket Council (ICC) denied permission for Khawaja to display a peace symbol on his bat and shoes.
Khawaja, a Muslim, had intended to feature a sticker on his gear depicting a black dove alongside the words 01:UDHR, referencing Article One of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This gesture, aimed at advocating for peace, had undergone multiple discussions between Khawaja and Cricket Australia in recent days.
However, the ICC, as reported by The Australian and Melbourne Age newspapers, rejected Khawaja’s latest attempt for a humanitarian statement, citing violations of their rules against messages related to politics, religion, or race.
This decision follows a previous incident during the first Test in Perth, where Khawaja was prohibited from wearing shoes bearing hand-written slogans like “Freedom is a human right” and “All lives are equal.”
Despite the setback, Khawaja remains committed to expressing his views. During the Perth Test, he donned a black armband, citing it as a symbol of personal bereavement. Vowing to contest the ICC ruling, Khawaja, in a Friday statement, shared how the Israel-Hamas conflict deeply affected him, especially witnessing the tragic loss of innocent children.
“When I’m looking at my Instagram and seeing innocent kids, videos of them dying, passing away, that’s what hit me the hardest,” he expressed, emphasizing his genuine intention to shed light on humanitarian concerns. This incident adds a layer of complexity to the ongoing discourse surrounding athletes and their role in advocating for social issues within the realm of sports. The decision by the ICC highlights the challenges faced by athletes in using their platform for meaningful expressions beyond the boundaries of the game.