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Usman Khawaja plans to fight ICC ban on ‘All lives are equal’ solidarity statement

Usman Khawaja to fight ICC ban on shoes
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Usman Khawaja posted an emotional video on social media claiming he will fight the ICC’s ban on him wearing boots with “All lives are equal” and “Freedom is a human right” messages printed on them.

Khawaja wore shoes with the messages “All lives are equal” and “Freedom is a human right” written on them while practicing ahead of the first Australia vs Pakistan Test in Perth on Tuesday (December 12), seemingly in solidarity with the victims in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine.

He was reportedly planning to wear them during the first Test, starting December 14, before it was confirmed by Pat Cummins in a press conference that he wouldn’t go ahead with it since it went against ICC’s regulations of not displaying any political messaging during a game.


However, Khawaja has since put out a video where he opened up about the message he had written on his shoes and how he plans to fight ICC’s decision and gain approval to wear them during the match.

Usman Khawaja to fight ICC ban

Usman Khawaja’s shoes with “All lives are equal” written across it

“I won’t say much, I don’t need to. But what I do want is for everyone who did get offended somehow, just to ask yourself these questions. Is freedom not for everyone? Are all lives not equal?

“To me, personally, it doesn’t matter what race, religion, or culture you are. But let’s be honest about it. If me saying, “All lives are equal” has a result of people being offended, to the point where they’re calling me up and telling me off, well, isn’t that the bigger problem?

“These people obviously don’t believe in what I’ve written. And it’s not just a handful of people. You’ll be shocked about how many feel this way.”

He went on to elaborate how the message he wanted to put out was not political but humanitarian. “What I’ve written on my shoes isn’t political. I’m not taking sides,” he said. “Human life to me is equal. One Jewish life is equal to one Muslim life is equal to one Hindu life and so on. I’m just speaking up for those who don’t have a voice. This is close to my heart.

“When I see thousands of innocent children dying without any repercussions or remorse, I imagine my two girls. What if this was them? No one chooses where they are born. And then I see the world turn their backs on them, my heart can’t take it.

“I already feel my life wasn’t equal to others when I was growing up. Luckily for me, I never lived in a world where the lack of inequality was life or death.”

Khawaja said that he has been told by the ICC that he won’t be allowed to wear the shoes with those two messages, a decision that he plans to challenge.

“The ICC have told me that I can’t wear my shoes on field because they believe it’s a political statement under their guidelines. I don’t believe it is so. It’s a humanitarian appeal. I will respect their view and decision, but I will fight it and seek to gain approval. Freedom is a human right.”

According to the ICC’s clothing and equipment rules and regulations, personal messages have to be approved by the ICC before a player can sport them during a game. However, it states that approvals won’t be ranted for political messages: “Approval shall not be granted for messages which relate to political, religious or racial activities or causes.”

Going further into what constitutes a ‘political, racial, or religious’ message, the guidelines state: “The ICC and its Members acknowledge and agree that cricket should be used as a tool to bring people and communities around the world together and not as a platform to draw attention to potentially divisive political issues, rhetoric or agendas.

“Each case must be considered on its own facts and the ICC will take into account all relevant circumstances, including (as it sees fit):

  • (a) the views of any other relevant team or individual;
  • (b) the likely sentiment and response in the media to the message in all relevant countries;
  • (c) whether the message is a ‘one-off’ or whether it is to be displayed for a longer period;
  • (d) the purpose and impact of conveying the message.”

It also states that a message is likely to be prohibited if it “appears to indicate support for a particular government, political party or individual.”

Earlier, Cricket Australia had expressed their support to players expressing their views while being mindful of ICC’s rules and regulations: “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.”

Cummins, during his pre-match press conference, had also come out in support of Khawaja while adding that the opener wasn’t looking to create too much of a fuss around the issue: “I think it’s one of our strongest points in our team is that everyone has their own passionate views and individual thoughts and I chatted to Uzzie (Khawaja) briefly about it today. And I don’t think his intention is to make too big of a fuss, but we support him. I think what was on the shoes, ‘all lives are equal’, I support that.”

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