Sports & Games

Azam Khan’s Solidarity with Gaza Costs Him 50% of His Match Fee

Azam Khan, the middle-order batter for Karachi Whites, has been fined 50% of his match fee by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for displaying a political message on his bat during the National T20 Cup in Karachi.

The 23-year-old cricketer had a sticker of Palestine’s flag on his bat in the match against Lahore Blues on Sunday (November 26). He scored 35 runs in the game, which Karachi lost by 10 runs.

According to sources, match referee Mohammad Javed summoned Azam after the match and informed him that he had violated the ICC’s clothing and equipment regulations, which prohibit players from displaying messages that relate to political, religious or racial activities or causes.

Azam reportedly told the referee that all of his bats had the same sticker and he did not intend to make any political statement. However, he was still fined 50% of his match fee by the PCB, which is a signatory of the ICC code of conduct.

Sources also revealed that Azam had used the same bat with the Palestine flag sticker in two previous matches of the National T20 Cup, but he was not warned by the officials.

Azam is not the first Pakistani cricketer to show his support for Palestine during a cricket match. Last month, Mohammad Rizwan, the wicketkeeper-batter, dedicated his century against Sri Lanka in the ICC World Cup 2023 to the “brothers and sisters in Gaza”, referring to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Rizwan tweeted after his unbeaten 131 helped Pakistan chase down a record target of 345 in Hyderabad on October 11. He wrote: “This was for our brothers and sisters in Gaza. Happy to contribute in the win. Credits to the whole team and especially Abdullah Shafique and Hassan Ali for making it easier. Extremely grateful to the people of Hyderabad for the amazing hospitality and support throughout.”

Rizwan’s tweet sparked a controversy on social media, with some users accusing him of bringing religion into the sport and others praising him for his gesture. The ICC, however, did not take any action against Rizwan, saying that it was a matter between the PCB and the player and that it was outside the field of play.

The PCB, on the other hand, asked Rizwan to delete his tweet, but he refused to do so. A spokesperson for the PCB said that the ICC and the PCB’s legal department were relevant in this case and that he was not privy to the information.

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