The International Cricket Council (ICC) have banned England batsman Moeen Ali from wearing wristbands featuring the slogans “Save Gaza” and “Free Palestine”.
Moeen, 27, who is Muslim and Pakistani descent, wore the wristbands on the second day of the third test (Monday 28th July), against India at Southampton.
Moeen’s wristbands were only on public display for just over 40 minutes while he made 12 runs off 28 balls before he was caught off India seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Though Moeen was backed by the England and Wales Cricket Board, he was told by match referee David Boon – the former Australia batsman who is the ICC’s match referee, to remove the wristband and not wear them again while playing for England.
The ICC regulations prohibit players from displaying political, religious or racial statements on their clothing and equipment while taking part in international matches.
The ban has been deemed “controversial” as the whole team wore the logo of the Help for Heroes charity on their shirts on Tuesday 29th July to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the first world war.
But the ICC issued the following statement: “The ICC equipment and clothing regulations do not permit the display of messages that relate to political, religious or racial activities or causes during an international match.
“Moeen Ali was told by the match referee that while he is free to express his views on such causes away from the cricket field, he is not permitted to wear the wristbands on the field of play and warned not to wear the bands again during an international match.”
Moeen, who has been involved in helping raise funds in his home city Birmingham for charities working to raise funds for Gaza relief efforts, has had the backing of his team.
England and Wales Cricket have said that “as far as we are concerned, he has not committed any offence,” adding it was up to the ICC to decide what action, if any, Ali should face.
Nevertheless, other cricketers expressed their support of Ali on social media.
“We have always worn wristbands or ribbons when showing support 4an incident or raising awareness,we do it for animal rights too,y not humans,” wrote former Pakistan cricketer Azhar Mahmood on Twitter.
“Absolutely love this! Well done Moeen bro! Keep showing your support! #Pray4Gaza” wrote England cricketer Ajmal Shahzad.
“Good on brother mo! #prayforGaza” wrote Lancashire and former England bowler Kabir Ali.
On Friday, Malaysian cyclist Azizulhasni Awang was warned he risked being thrown out of the Commonwealth Games if he repeated wearing gloves bearing the message “Save Gaza”.
Awang could have been ejected from the 2014 Glasgow Games after wearing the gloves in competition on Thursday.
Instead the 26-year-old was given a reprimand and warned not to wear them again.
The Commonwealth Games Federation seeks to avoid its competitions being used for political means.
Though Awang insisted his message was “humanitarian” rather than politically-charged, he issued an apology.