Usman Khawaja says he’ll contest ICC’s armband charge, claims it was for ‘personal bereavement’

Sydney: Australian cricketer Usman Khawaja has said that he will not wear a black armband for the Test match against Pakistan at the MCG, but will challenge the charge against him by the International Cricket Council.
Khawaja was reprimanded by the ICC for sporting a black armband on his arm in the first Test against Pakistan at Perth, which Australia won convincingly by 360 runs. It must be noted that the ICC reprimand does not carry a financial or playing penalty.
“The ICC asked me day two (of the Perth Test) what (the black armband) was for, I told them it was for a personal bereavement. I never ever stated it was for anything else,” Khawaja told reporters on Friday. “I respect the ICC and all the regulations they have, I will be asking them and contesting them… From my point of view, that consistency hasn’t been done yet. The shoes were for a different matter, I’m happy to say that, but the armband (reprimand) made no sense to me.”
Khawaja had initially planned to wear batting spikes with the slogans “all lives are equal” and “freedom is a human right” inscribed on them for the first Test. The messages were in support of Palestinians in Gaza. He had shown off the messages during a training session before the first Test. However, Cricket Australia and the ICC had reached out to him to warn him against what they deemed to be a political message. Khawaja had abandoned the plan to have the messages on his spikes, but had sported the black armband instead.
“I followed all the regulations and past precedents – guys have put stickers on their bats, names on their shoes, done all sorts of things in the past without ICC approval and never been reprimanded.”
The ICC’s regulations prevent players from displaying messages of political, religious or racial causes during international matches. However, ICC allows cricketers to wear black armbands to mark deaths of former players, family members or other significant individuals after taking prior permission from ICC.
“I don’t have any agendas other than trying to shine a light on what I feel really passionately, really strong about. I’m trying to do it in the most respectful way as possible,” said Khawaja about the messages he planned ot sport on his shoes.
“What I wrote on my shoes was, really I thought about it for a while, what I was going to write. I made sure that I didn’t want to segregate different parts of the population, religious beliefs, communities. That’s why I kept religion out of this. I want to be really broad over my speaking because I’m talking about humanitarian issues. I’m talking about article one of Unified Declaration of Human Rights. That is literally the crux of it,” he added.
“The reason I’m doing it is because it hit me hard. I told Nick Hockley (Cricket Australia chief) literally just this morning that when I’m looking at my Instagram and I’m seeing kids, innocent kinds, videos of them dying, passing away, that’s what hit me the hardest. I just imagine my young daughter in my arms and the same thing. I get emotional talking about it right now again. And for me, that’s the reason I’m doing this. I don’t have any hidden agendas.
“If anything, you know, if anything, this brings up more negativity towards me. People come and start attacking me. I don’t get anything out of this. I just feel like it’s my responsibility to speak up on this,” he added.

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