Usman Khawaja says armband for ‘personal bereavement’ not for Gaza civilians
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Usman Khawaja says armband for ‘personal bereavement’ not for Gaza civilians

Australia opener Usman Khawaja says the black armband he wore during the first Test against Pakistan was for a “personal bereavement” and not in support of civilians in Gaza.

Usman Khawaja says armband for 'personal bereavement' not for Gaza civilians
Usman Khawaja says armband for ‘personal bereavement’ not for Gaza civilians

The 37-year-old was charged by the International Cricket Council on Thursday for wearing the armband.

Khawaja says he will contest the charge but will not wear the armband during the second Test from 26 December.

“I followed all the regulations and past precedents,” Khawaja said.

“The ICC asked me what it was for, I told them it was for a personal bereavement – I never ever stated it was for anything else,” he added.

“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.

“I will be asking them and contesting they make it fair and equitable for everyone and they have consistency in how they officiate. That consistency hasn’t been done yet.”

In the days leading up to the first Test, Khawaja – who has posted on social media about the conflict in Gaza – was pictured wearing shoes with the words “all lives are equal” and “freedom is a human right” in training.

He intended to wear them on the field but opted not to after the ICC told him they were against its regulations.

The ICC deemed him in breach of its clothing and equipment regulations for wearing the armband.

The ICC said: “Usman displayed a personal message (armband) 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.”

Under ICC regulations, players cannot display messages of political, religious or racial causes during international matches.

“The shoes were for a different matter, I’m happy to say that,” said Khawaja. “But the armband [reprimand] made no sense to me.”

Israel launched a major military campaign in Gaza in response to a cross-border attack by hundreds of Hamas gunmen on 7 October, in which at least 1,400 people were killed and about 240 others taken hostage.

Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry says more than 20,000 people have been killed in the territory since Israel launched its retaliatory campaign.

Khawaja, who is Muslim, has said his message is a “humanitarian appeal” and not a political statement.

Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley said the organisation is working with Khawaja to find an alternative way to express his support for humanitarian issues.

Australia lead the three-match series 1-0 with the second Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground starting on 26 December.

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