CAIRO – Cricket Australia have agreed to allow Muslim player Fawad Ahmed to compete without wearing the logo of a beer sponsor on his playing shirt due to his Muslim faith.
“I have never had the drink in my life,” Ahmed told Australia’s The Daily Telegraph.
“There is no contact with alcohol for me, even I am not wearing the logo on my cricket shirt.”
Ahmed, a Muslim Pakistani-born refugee, has reportedly informed Cricket Australia that he was not comfortable wearing the VB logo due to his Islamic beliefs.
The Muslim player did not wear the logo of brewing company VB on his shirt during his international debut in last week’s T20 matches against England.
The spinner has previously gone through the same process with his Victorian state team where he was given permission to play without the beer company’s logo on his shirt.
Executive general manager of operations Mike McKenna CA noted that the parties were “respectful of Fawad’s personal beliefs” and agreed to his request to wear an unbranded shirt.
“Following Fawad’s selection in the Australia A squad to tour the British Isles in June, Cricket Australia spoke with him in regards to the VB branding of the team kit,” McKenna said in a CA press release cited by The Guardian.
“Fawad expressed discomfort with the conflict this created for him, due to his religious beliefs.
“Cricket Australia and Carlton United Breweries (CUB) are respectful of Fawad’s personal beliefs and have agreed with his request to wear an unbranded shirt.
“CUB have been a long-standing partner of Australian Cricket for more than 17 years and Fawad was thankful for their understanding of his personal situation.”
Islam takes an uncompromising stand in prohibiting intoxicants. It forbids Muslims from drinking or even selling alcohol.
The general rule in Islam is that any beverage that get people intoxicated when taken is unlawful, both in small and large quantities, whether it is alcohol, drugs, fermented raisin drink or something else.
The Muslim player said his team colleagues were very much understanding of his religious beliefs.
“The players respect that and it is a good thing for them, too,” Ahmed said.
“They are asking so many questions about my tradition and my culture and especially about my religion.”
Living in multicultural Melbourne, Ahmed noted that prayers have never made a problem for him.
“All of the teams, the whole country, everyone has really respected my religion, my tradition. I have never had a single problem about my prayers, (whether it be) at the train station or the bus stop or the cricket ground, in the player rooms,” he said.
“I have missed some training because of Ramadan, missed some game time because I had to come to pray and then come back on to the ground.
“Especially Melbourne is so multicultural. So many mosques around, so many halal meat shops, so I never felt any problems with my religion. That is such a good thing about this country.”
Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.
Ahmed is one of two Muslims in the Australian squad. Usman Khawaja, also born in Pakistan, wore VB logos on his shirt during the Ashes series.
South Africa batsman Hashim Amla has previously refused to wear Castle Lager branding on his international team kit.
“I’m certainly no saint but the discipline of the Islamic way of life has helped my cricket without a doubt,” Amla told ESPN in an interview.
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.