Australian rugby union great David Campese has apologized for a Twitter outburst in which he said Muslim cricketer Fawad Ahmed should “go home” if he refused to wear a beer logo on his shirt.
Cricket Australia agreed to the Pakistan-born leg-spinner’s request not to wear the sponsorship logo of beer brand VB on his team outfit because of Islam’s ban on alcohol.
The move sparked critical comments, including from former Australian cricketer Doug Walters, who said Ahmed should realize how much funding sponsors put into the sport and if he did not want to wear the uniform, he should not take their money.
The comments prompted former Wallaby captain Campese to tweet: “Doug Walters tells Pakistan-born Fawad Ahmed: if you don’t like the VB uniform, don’t play for Australia. Well said Doug. Tell him to go home.”
In another tweet on Friday he said: “Team means team not I. You can’t win if you think that way. sponsors pay money to pay wages, develop the game...”
Cricket Australia condemned any “racist comments” directed to Ahmed on social media and Campese has reportedly been suspended as a rugby commentator by a South African television station over the remarks.
In his latest tweets, posted on Monday, Campese apologized.
“Just like to say sorry for comments. It is about sport and never has or will be about religion. Any [one] who knows me can tell you that,” he said.
Campese added that he would be ringing the Australian Cricketers’ Association “to say sorry and to pass my message on. Sport is about team work and team. That was my point. Sorry again.”
Ahmed, who became an Australian citizen in July after his application was fast-tracked, did not have the brewer’s logo on his shirt during his international debut in recent T20 matches against England.
His case is not the first of its kind, with South African batsman Hashim Amla, also a Muslim, permitted not to wear the logo of Cricket South Africa sponsor Castle, a beer company, on his kit.
Australia’s one-day vice-captain George Bailey said former asylum-seeker Ahmed was unmoved by the row.
“I don’t think it’d particularly worry Fawad,” Bailey said after Friday’s washout in the first one-day international in Leeds. “I think he’s probably had to deal with a lot more important things than what’s on the front of his shirt.”