Pakistan-born leg-spinner, Fawad Ahmed’s request to be exempt from wearing a beer company’s logo on his Australia shirt due to his Muslim faith has been granted by Cricket Australia, but it has invited heavy criticism.
Australia rugby great David Campese was criticised for “bigoted” comments about Fawad by CA chief executive James Sutherland on Friday. Campese, who played 101 tests for the Wallabies and was player of the 1991 World Cup, said Fawad should “go home” if he didn’t want to wear the logo.
Aussie cricketing great, Doug Walters too weighed in. Walters, who famously drank 44 cans of beer on the flight to England for the 1977 Ashes tour, told the Australian media: “I think if he doesn’t want to wear the team gear, he should not be part of the team.”
Campese then wrote on Twitter: “Doug Walters tells Pakistan-born Fawad Ahmed: if you don’t like the ... uniform, don’t play for Australia Well said doug. Tell him to go home.”
Ahmed, who fled Pakistan in 2009 to seek asylum in Australia and gained fast-track citizenship in July, was picked for Australia’s five-match limited-overs series in England after he made his debut in the Twenty20 series last week.
“We were the ones that raised it with Fawad to ensure he was comfortable, knowing his religious background and where alcohol fits in with that,” Sutherland said on Friday.
“The Australian cricket community has welcomed him and we’re very proud to have him,” Sutherland said, adding that he had been dismayed at the “opportunism on some people’s parts to reflect bigoted views.”
After Campese’s initial tweet, he said he didn’t care about Fawad’s religion but objected to his beliefs affecting sport in general.
“Well, why did he come to Aussie for in the first place. A better life? Now he is telling people what he wants! .... a lot more kids who would love to play for Australia. And they wouldn’t complain.”