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Fawad Ahmed. -Photo by AFP
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.

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Comments (26) Closed

Muhammad Sep 06, 2013 07:20pm

Fawad Ahmed should not forget the fact that secular Australia offered him asylum from the radical Islamic extremists in Swabi who would probably have killed him. Bearing this in mind, he should also show some tolerance. Wearing a beer sponsor's logo on his kit does not make him a non-Muslim

Karachi Wala Sep 06, 2013 07:20pm

It is nothing but fear of known on the part of David Campese and Doug Walters. It seems like both of them are mixing one

Ghumman Sep 06, 2013 07:33pm

Thumbs Up for Fawad we love you.

Syed - Sydney Sep 06, 2013 07:39pm

I guess you all should watch BBC's documentary called, Muslim Premier League which was aired sometime this year. that will broaden your horizon.

zeeman Sep 06, 2013 07:54pm

It's interesting someone like campese criticises Fawad for coming to Australia for a better life, he needs to read his history! Campese is not an original Australian name, what did his parents come to Australia from Italy for? A worse life?

khurram khan Sep 06, 2013 08:03pm

Aussies should learn something from South Africans. Come on guys, everyone should have freedom when it comes to religious beliefs. So do not ponder on small issues, think for bigger one and wish this lad a luck.

a Sep 06, 2013 08:12pm

Every person has a right to follow his faith, IRREGARDLESS of country, faith, religion. If this guy doesn't want to wear alcohol sponsorship logos on his jersey, then SO WHAT. Campese should be ashamed of himself for making such remarks.

Iqbal Sep 06, 2013 08:24pm

Welcome Mr. Fawad... here is your dream land !

Mushtaq Sep 06, 2013 08:46pm

We Muslims should stop demanding special treatment. It's business. Go home! Keep religion private.

Rashid Sultan Sep 06, 2013 09:37pm

All said & done, home is best.

Ramesh Sep 06, 2013 10:59pm

I think he took advantage of Pakistan's poor image in the world & his action resulted in further defamation of Pakistan. But he is over 31 years of age. So, I don't think he has much international cricketing carrier left, which is another indication that he just wanted money & good post-retirement life.

S M Q Zaman Sep 06, 2013 11:45pm

I disagree with Fawad Ahmed's decision and my reasoning (based on the famous Sahih Hadith or Saying of the Prophet (pbuh) and the Laws of Islamic Jurisprudence) is as follows: Whether he wears the VB Beer logo on his shirt is neither here or there, as they are jointly-funding the Aussie team (and that is why the advert is on the shirt of all the players). On the basis of his perception and conflic of interest, he really should not be playing for the Aussie Team, if he is so strict in the Shariah interpretation (which in this case is not direct or indirect-selling by him, under the '8 categories' listed by the 'Sahih Hadith')! Therefore, as far he's concerned he's not promoting VB Beer, anyway, as he has no direct or indirect contract with them in his legal and personal capacity. There are muslim football players in the English Premier League, who have a similar issue but they have taken the view that ii is a management and funding issue and not their responsibility (as shown recently on a programme during this Ramadan in the UK) and their responsibility is to play footie on the field. Therefore, 'No Likes' from me and my suggestion to Fawad is to quit playing for the Australian team and try and play for Pakistan, if he's so serious and concerned about 'his conflict of interest' between his livelihood and Islamic principles and values relating to alcohol prohibition'! Otherwise, as we say, "Allah Knows Best"; Praise be to Allah/God Almighty!

not a Gora! Sep 06, 2013 11:53pm much for tolerance and freedom of speech..on one hand its okay if a kid in 4th grade has the permission to say words like "shit" in public and have his ears pierced because "he wanted it" while its down to deportation for a man who doesnt drink or wants nothing to do with alcohol for whatever reason may it be religious or personal! WoW! sheer brilliance!! what backward thoughts from an "evolved" species!

Maryam siddique Sep 07, 2013 12:02am

He left Afghanistan to escape the "religious extremism" of Taliban and now he may have to leave Australia to escape the "unreligious extremists" of Australia. Extremism is everywhere and not easy to escape from.

Ahmad Sep 07, 2013 12:11am

Campese the australian should go back home. Its only he natives who are the real inhabitants of Australia. All the others black, white and brown are immigrants.

No white australian has the cheek to tell any other immigrant to go back home because he/she him/herself is an immigrant.

khan78 Sep 07, 2013 05:51am

alleged ' bigoted' man is actually just an honest man...all ppl like fawad ahmad should go back home..if this is the level of hypocracy and ignorance that they carry with is like chai to majority of cultures...your problem may be an offence to others.

Arrie Sep 07, 2013 09:04pm

May be he took one too many hits to his head!

kirther Sep 07, 2013 11:54pm

Hashim Amala in South African team does the same and they have no problems then why Australians are creating a big issue they should be concentrating on the game, this is where they are loosing.

Keen Observer Sep 08, 2013 01:06am

@S M Q Zaman: Really. If he is asked for his comfort level and he refuses, Than why should he be a hippocrate and pretend otherwise. Why is it that tolerence of a persons belief, or views be not part of how we deal with other human beings. No human being is hurt by it. He is selected for his talent in cricket, not how he is or should be dressed. Cricket Australia may fine him, and he should pay that fine, if infact he is violating a law.

Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad Sep 08, 2013 03:39pm

Both Dough Walters and David Campese are wrong. They needto go back to school and study about cross-cultural and cross-religious sensitivity issues. They must also develop the necessary guts, grit and the understanding to know that whether we like it or not, we are all living in the 21st century wherein the whole world has now become a global village.

At the same time, we must all appreciate the fact that people of all races and religions have the God given right to believe in and practice their faith, cultural and heritage practices no matter which part of the world they live in and irrespective of their so-called residential status.

If David Campese and Dough Walters can publicly ask Fawad Ahmad to leave Australia just because Fawad wants to practice his faith, then the indigenous people of Australia and New Zealand to whom the predecessors of Dough Walters and David Campese invaded, over-ran, looted and occupied based on the jungle law of 'might is right' can also ask him to leave their territory.

Let's be sensible and use common sense, which unfortunately is not so common these days. Dough Walters and David Campese should know that Hasim Amala, the top ranked gentleman cricketer of South Africa, who is also a Muslim by faith had refused to put-on the logo of a famous brand of beer on his cricket kit, as official sponsors of the South African cricket team. Fortunately in his case, better sense prevailed because the cricket administration and the'movers and shakers' of South African cricket showed better wisdom, more understanding, realistic courage and good admiration to let Hashim Amla practice his religious beliefs and faith both on and off the cricket turf, while representing his country in the field of international cricket. This is indeed a glittering example for all other cricket players, administrators, fans, organizers, umpires, sponsors, promoters and others in general and global sportsmen and women like Dough Walters and David Compese in particular.

It is high time and the right time for all of us to understand, admire, appreciate and promote inter-faith harmony and inter-racial understanding in all areas and sports in general and the gentleman's game of cricket should not be an exception to it.

Logic Sep 08, 2013 07:04pm

@Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad: Your comment is only valid if Muslims let minorities in their countries enjoy the same rights What's the percentage of non Muslims in Pakistan and what condition do they live in? Egypt?, Iraq?, Syrya etc,etc

Imran sheikh Sep 08, 2013 07:04pm

Campese was a great rugby player, but he is certainly not a great sportsman. No one criticized him for wearing any logo according to his values. Why is he not accepting of others values? It is like the Pakistan team refusing to play an Indian team because they do not eat cow meat due to their belief, or an Indian team refusing to admit Muslim players on similar prejudice. The vast majority of Australians fortunately are not so petty, and support Ahmed as true sportsmen.

Vijay Sep 08, 2013 10:23pm

@Ramesh: Thank you for your obtuse logic. At least we have one person in this forum who is thinking with something other than their head.

saad Sep 08, 2013 10:49pm

fawad is an idiot he left Pakistan and got asylum in Australia now wants to recreate Pakistan in Australia...the problem is not just religion it is the culture of promotes this sort of a behavior...evolved cultures promote more common sense and shun superstition and ignorance...he should not be denied the right to live in Australia but if he wants to represent Australia he is representing what it stands for...if not he should go back indeed

Akash Paul Sep 08, 2013 11:11pm

@Maryam siddique : Correction he fled Pakistan(not Afghanistan) in 2009 to seek asylum in Australia.

Viresh Sep 09, 2013 03:03pm

How funny, it bothers him wearing a logo, but doesn't bother getting sponsored by VB, hypocrisy at its best...he was good back in pakistan, no one was forcing him to wear a beer logo