Sports & Games

PCB Reverses Fine on Azam Khan for Palestine Flag on Bat

Azam Khan, the Karachi Whites wicketkeeper-batter, has been spared from paying a 50% match fee fine by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) after he displayed the Palestinian flag on his bat during a National T20 Cup 2023-24 match.

The PCB announced on Tuesday that it had reviewed its earlier decision and waived off the fine imposed on Azam for committing a level-I offence in the match against Lahore Blues at National Bank Stadium, Karachi on November 26.

Azam had breached the clothing and equipment regulations by displaying an unapproved logo or political messaging on his bat. He had also violated Article 2.4 of the PCB code of conduct for players and players’ support personnel for repeated failure to comply with the instruction or directive of an umpire during a match.

According to the PCB, players and team officials are not allowed to wear, display or otherwise convey personal messages on their equipment unless approved in advance by both the player or team official’s cricket association and PCB Cricket Operations Department.

Azam’s gesture was seen as a show of solidarity with the Palestinian people who have been suffering from Israeli aggression and occupation for decades. The conflict in Gaza has claimed the lives of thousands of Palestinians, including many children, in the past few months.

The PCB’s decision to fine Azam had sparked outrage among cricket fans and social media users who slammed the board for penalizing the batter for supporting a humanitarian cause. Many compared Azam’s case with that of the Pakistani cricketers who had posted statements and pictures on their social media channels in support of Palestine during the World Cup 2023. They had not faced any action from the PCB or the ICC as their code of conduct only applies to on-field activities.

Azam had reportedly informed the referee that all of his bats had the same stickers of the Palestinian flag. He had also used the same bat in two previous games of the National T20 Cup without any warning.

The ICC regulation for clothing and equipment states that players shall not be allowed to display messages that carry political, religious, or racial activities or causes.

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