Usman Khawaja charged by ICC for wearing black armband at Perth Test

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Khawaja wore the armband in place of taking the field with writing on his shoes which he had worn in training stating “all lives are equal” and “freedom is a human right” to raise awareness of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Black armbands are a regular sight in international cricket to mark deaths of former players, family members or other significant individuals, but they need permission from the national board and the ICC.

“Usman Khawaja has been charged for breaching Clause F of the Clothing and Equipment Regulations,” an ICC spokesperson told ESPNcricinfo. “Usman displayed a personal message (arm band) 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. This is a breach under the category of an ‘other breach’ and the sanction for a first offence is a reprimand.”

As of Thursday night, this was a charge against Khawaja with the sanction yet to be confirmed. Even if the reprimand did eventuate it would not leave him in any doubt for the Boxing Day Test against Pakistan, and even a fourth such sanction in a 12-month period would only be a penalty of 75% of the match fee rather than a suspension. That said, it remains to be seen what would happen if Khawaja continues to use the arm band at the MCG.

The ICC’s clothing and equipment regulations state: “Players and team officials shall not be permitted to wear, display or otherwise convey personal messages on their clothing, equipment or otherwise, irrespective of whether such messages are affixed to clothing, equipment or otherwise and whether such messages are displayed or conveyed through the use of the specific clothing or other items (eg. an arm band) or by the use of words, symbol, graphic message, images or otherwise (‘personal messages’), unless approved in advance by both the player or team official’s board and the ICC Cricket Operations Department. Approval shall not be granted for messages which relate to political, religious or racial activities or causes.”

Ahead of the Perth Test, and shortly after opting not to wear the shoes with the writing, Khawaja posted an emotional video on social media stating that he was not making political claims. At the time he said he would challenge the ICC over his right to wear the shoes.

“What I’ve written on my shoes is not 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.”

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

Ahead of the Perth Test when Khawaja was considering wearing the shoes, CA said: “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.”

Khawaja is due to speak in Melbourne on Friday.

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