Fawad Ahmed. -Photo by AFP
SYDNEY: Rugby great David Campese was criticized for “bigoted” comments about Pakistan-born spin bowler Fawad Ahmed by Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland on Friday. Ahmed received permission from Cricket Australia to not wear a beer company logo on his uniform due to his Muslim faith.
Campese, retired after 101 rugby Tests for Australia, said Ahmed should “go home” if he did not want to wear the sponsor's logo on his playing shirt. Earlier, former Test cricketer Doug Walters was quoted in Australian media as saying: “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 told Fairfax Media 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 Ahmed's religion but objected to his beliefs affecting sport in general.
Campese said: “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 would t complain,” Campese said.
The 50-year-old Campese once held the world record for the most tries in test matches with 64.
He was voted player of the tournament at the 1991 Rugby World Cup after scoring six tries to help lead Australia to the title.