Cricket star Usman Khawaja takes to social media ahead of Palestine’s World Cup soccer match in Perth

Jackson Barrett
The West Australian
3 Min Read
Usman Khawaja has taken to social media before Palestine's clash with Australia.
Usman Khawaja has taken to social media before Palestine's clash with Australia. Credit: Getty Images

Australian cricket star Usman Khawaja says he is confused as to why the Socceroos are playing against “a country that our government doesn’t even recognise” when they meet Palestine in Perth on Tuesday night.

Khawaja threw his support behind the war-torn nation ahead of their World Cup qualifier against Australia at HBF Park tonight in a social media post on Tuesday morning.

More than 35,000 people are estimated to have been killed since Israel declared war on Hamas in Gaza in October.

Sign up to The Nightly's newsletters.

Get the first look at the digital newspaper, curated daily stories and breaking headlines delivered to your inbox.

Email Us
By continuing you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.

Khawaja, the Australian Test team’s veteran opening batter, was barred from wearing a humanitarian logo on his boots while batting in a match in Perth against Pakistan late last year.

Usman Khawaja had these messages written on his cricket shoes.
Usman Khawaja had these messages written on his cricket shoes. Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images

The Pakistani-born cricketer trained in shoes on the eve of the Optus Stadium Test match that had the message “all lives are equal” handwritten in red, green and black — the colours of the Palestinian flag.

“Can’t wait for this. Palestinian flags will be flying everywhere in HBF Park in Perth ... And they can’t ban them,” Khawaja posted to X on Tuesday.

“Likewise I’m confused how we are playing a country that our government doesn’t even recognise? Is this Socceroos v Nobody? It’s all very confusing yes.”

National flags of competing teams — as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island flags — will be allowed into the venue, as well as banners and flags that are “translatable” and “positive or neutral in messaging”.

Khawaja later backed out of his planned shoe statement under the looming risk of sanctions from the International Cricket Council, put posted a video message to social media explaining the stance.

Usman Khawaja in the protest T-shirt. X
Usman Khawaja in the protest T-shirt. X Credit: X

But he was sporting the dove logo on his bat later in the season during a Big Bash League match for the Brisbane Heat against Perth Scorchers.

“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,” he said at the time.

“I don’t believe this 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.”

At a press conference on Monday, Palestine midfielder Mohammed Rashid revealed the people suffering in their home country provides inspiration for the players.

Usman Khawaja in action with his bat stickers.
Usman Khawaja in action with his bat stickers. Credit: AAP/TheWest

Palestine and Australia have both qualified for the next stage of the World Cup with a game to spare ahead of Tuesday night’s clash.

The most recent meeting between the two sides — a 1-0 victory to Australia in November — was played at a neutral venue in Kuwait.

“To be honest, this is our only motivation right now,” Rashid said.

“This is what keeps us working on the pitch because there’s really nothing else to work for.

“People right now, this is the only thing they’re watching, this is the only thing that gives them hope - watching their national team advance and go on to the next rounds that we have never made before.

“So to us this is a big motivation to see the support that even with the war going on, we see pictures of people watching the games in Gaza and everywhere all over Palestine.

“So this gives us a lot of hope. And hopefully this will keep us going, but we pray that everything will stop and peace will prevail in the area because really, it’s enough.”


Latest Edition

The front page of The Nightly for 21-06-2024

Latest Edition

Edition Edition 21 June 202421 June 2024

Australians deprived of seeing Historic World Cup moment by dodgy TV laws.