Usman Khawaja is set to don shoes displaying a message on human rights during the Perth Test.

Australian cricketer Usman Khawaja intends to sport shoes adorned with slogans advocating human rights during the opening Test against Pakistan this Thursday, in a show of solidarity with the individuals enduring hardships in Gaza. The International Cricket Council prohibits the display of messages connected to political causes during international matches.

During training this week, Khawaja was photographed in custom Nike shoes. On his right shoe, he had inscribed the words “human right is freedom”, while on his left shoe, he wrote “equality for all lives”.

Speaking to reporters in Perth, Khawaja revealed his plans to wear the shoes during the match at Optus Stadium, which marks the first day of Australia’s international cricket summer. The 37-year-old recently shared a video from Unicef depicting the situation in Gaza, questioning the apathy towards the loss of innocent lives. He pondered whether the lack of concern was due to the victims’ ethnicity or religious beliefs, emphasizing the irrelevance of such factors if one truly believes in equality.

In the past, the ICC has imposed penalties for the display of what it considers political messages. For instance, during a Test against India in Southampton back in 2014, England’s Moeen Ali was prohibited from wearing wristbands inscribed with “Save Gaza” and “Free Palestine”. This decision came after initial approval from England was overturned by the ICC’s match referee, David Boon, who is Australian.

The ICC’s statement at the time mentioned that their equipment and clothing regulations prohibit the exhibition of messages linked to political, religious, or racial activities during international matches. Although Moeen Ali was informed that he was free to express his views off the cricket field, he was warned not to wear the wristbands again during a match.

The ICC’s current rules and regulations assert that cricket should serve as a means to unite people and communities globally, rather than as a platform to highlight potentially divisive political issues, rhetoric, or agendas. The ICC, Cricket Australia, Nike, and the Australian Cricketers’ Association have been contacted for comment.

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