Fawad Ahmed, one of two Australian Muslims to play on the VB Tour of England, won’t have to wear the VB logo on his shirt because, on religious grounds, he does not associate with alcohol. Mike McKenna, Cricket Australia’s executive general manager operations, said the parties were ”respectful of Fawad’s personal beliefs” and agreed to his request to wear an unbranded shirt.Discomfort: Fawad Ahmed, celebrating after claiming the wicket of England’s Michael Lumb, has been allowed to wear an unbranded shirt on religious grounds. Photo: Andrew Yates, The Age
by David Sygall, Source: The Age
Fawad Ahmed will raise a hard-earned thirst in the one-day cricket series against England this week, but he will not promote the product his teammates will as a way to quench it.
Ahmed, one of two Australian Muslims to play on the ”VB Tour of England”, was picked for the five-game limited overs series after he made his debut in the Twenty20 series last week.
The spin bowler – who fled Pakistan in 2009, sought asylum in Australia in 2010 and gained citizenship in July – ”expressed discomfort” about wearing the logo of one of Cricket Australia’s two major sponsors because, on religious grounds, he does not associate with alcohol.
Mike McKenna, CA’s executive general manager operations, said the parties were ”respectful of Fawad’s personal beliefs” and agreed to his request to wear an unbranded shirt.
”Cricket Australia would have weighed this up seriously,” Australian Cricketers’ Association chief executive Paul Marsh said. ”They would have thought about the precedent it could set. But I commend them and Carlton United for taking an approach that allowed the player to not contravene his personal beliefs.”
There are no provisions in cricketers’ contracts for objections to sponsors’ logos. However, Marsh said, ”If a player has reasonable personal or professional objection … they would allow the player to be exempt. That’s what has been extended to Fawad. They came to a very reasonable agreement.”
Deborah Healey, a senior law lecturer at UNSW, said it ”raises interesting issues”.
”This seems a clear-cut case, as it’s a bedrock belief of his religion,” Healey said. ”But there are a whole range of religions that, for instance, don’t approve of gambling.” Bruce Collins QC, a long-time sports administrator and expert in sports law, said the decision regarding Ahmed reflected well on the parties. However, a dispute over wearing a betting company logo ”would get messy”.
”I think it will happen and there will be a difficult issue if agreement can’t be reached,” Collins said. ”The problem is that, each time it happens, the value of what the sponsor has purchased is eroded. There’s got to be a limit to that and, when that limit is reached, there will certainly be a real issue that will have to be negotiated.”
English Premier League footballer, Papiss Cisse, a Muslim, recently refused on religious grounds to wear his Newcastle team shirt featuring a sponsor, whose business is to offer short-term loans. South African cricketer Hashim Amla, also a Muslim, was exempted from wearing a beer brand logo on his shirt.