England vs India: Moeen Ali may face charge over ‘Free Palestine’ wristbands

Batsman’s protest overshadows Bell’s century against India in third Test

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The Independent Online

The England batsman Moeen Ali could be in trouble after wearing wristbands supporting the victims of the conflict in Gaza during the third Test on Monday. It may have been an overt statement of his beliefs, and one that will garner sympathy from many quarters, but it may also place him on a charge with the International Cricket Council.

During his brief innings against India in Southampton, Moeen was spotted wearing white and black bands bearing the messages: “Save Gaza” and “Free Palestine”. England’s management made clear that in its opinion he had committed no offence, but the ICC said it was investigating and would report. It would be up to the match referee, David Boon, to lay any charge under the code of conduct.

A strict interpretation of the ICC’s clothing regulations suggests that Moeen was in contravention. The clause on personal messages says: “Players and team officials shall not be permitted to wear, display or otherwise convey messages through armbands or other items affixed to clothing or equipment unless approved in advance by the player or team official’s board. Approval shall not be granted for messages which relate to political, religious or racial activities or causes.”

Moeen has no qualms about expressing his affiliations or his beliefs, wearing his long beard as a label. In an interview last year he said: “I want people to know I am a Muslim and I want people to know I am representing the Muslim faith. I want to show that you can practise your faith and still play cricket to a high level. Yes, I see myself as a role model. And as a role model, I have to behave in a certain way. Do I see it as a mission? Yes, I do.”

The controversy came on a good day for England, with Ian Bell scoring 167 as the hosts declared on 569 for 7. In their reply, India reached 25 for 1 by close of play.