Australian batsman Usman Khawaja says he will not wear his shoes bearing the words “all lives are equal” during the first Test against Pakistan in Perth, but he will fight the ICC’s ruling the message is a political statement.

In a video posted to X, formerly known as Twitter, on Wednesday evening, Khawaja confirmed the ICC had ruled the messages broke rules. 

“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,” an emotional Khawaja said.

Perth test Usman Khawaja

Khawaja’s shoes say ‘all lives are equal’.(Getty Images: Paul Kane)

“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.”

Cricket Australia also quashed the message Khawaja intended to make about the Israel-Gaza war, saying it expects players to follow the rules about “personal opinions”.

Khawaja was filmed training in Perth earlier this week wearing shoes with hand-written messages saying “freedom is a human right” and “all lives are equal”.

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He had told reporters he planned to wear them during day one of the Perth Test on Thursday.

In a statement released to journalists on Wednesday, Cricket Australia poured cold water on the idea.

“We support the right of our players to express personal opinions,” it read.

“But the ICC has rules in place which prohibit the display of personal messages which we expect the players to uphold.”

The 35-year-old has recently spoken out about the Israel-Gaza war, and has reposted pro-Palestinian messages on his social media account.

‘My heart can’t take it’

In his video statement, Khawaja denied his message was political.

“I’m not taking sides,” he said. “Human life to me is equal.

“One Jewish life is equal to one Muslim life is equal to one Hindu life and so on.

A man sitting in a hotel room wearing an off-white hoodie

Usman Khawaja published a statement on his X (formerly Twitter) page on Wednesday afternoon.(Twitter: @Uz_Khawaja)

“I’m just speaking up for those who don’t have a voice.

“When I see thousands of innocent children dying without any repercussions or remorse, I imagine my two girls.

“What if this was them? No one chooses where they’re born.

“And then I see the world turn their backs on them. My heart can’t take it.”

Khawaja won’t wear shoes: Cummins

Australia captain Pat Cummins said he spoke with Khawaja, who said he wouldn’t wear the shoes on the field.

A close up shot of a man pursing his lips

Pat Cummins spoke to reporters in Perth on Wednesday.(AAP: Bianca Di Marchi)

“He had some words on his shoes. I think it’s one of our strongest points of our team that everyone has his own personal views and thoughts,” he said.

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“I chatted to Ussie about it briefly today. I don’t think his intention was to make too big of a fuss, but we support him.

“He said he won’t be [wearing them].

“I think it drew the attention to the ICC rules … which I don’t know if he was across them beforehand.

“I think he had ‘All lives are equal’. I don’t think that’s very divisive. I don’t think anyone can have too many complaints about that.”

“All lives are equal. I support that.”

But federal Minister for Sport Anika Wells said she didn’t think Khawaja’s decision to display the messages on his shoes would contravene ICC rules.

Anika Wells wearing a pink top and looking at a journalist out of frame.

Federal sports minister Anika Wells spoke about the issue in Perth on Wednesday morning.(ABC News: Lucas Hill)

“Usman Khawaja is a great Australian and he has every right to speak up on matters that are critical to him,” she told reporters on Wednesday morning.

“I think he has done it in a peaceful and respectful way … and as a way that he as an individual can express an individual opinion in a way that doesn’t compromise the Australian cricket team’s obligations to the ICC.”

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