During the game between India and South Africa in Southampton, MS Dhoni was spotted sporting the 'Balidaan Badge' of the India Paratroopers. While Indian fans on Twitter celebrated how Dhoni loved the Indian army, a controversy has erupted with the ICC apparently requesting the BCCI to ask Dhoni to remove the badge. However, the BCCI came out in support stating that the former India skipper will continue wearing the dagger insignia on his keeping gloves as it was not a military symbol. The ICC regulations specifically state, "The ICC equipment and clothing regulations do not permit the display of messages that relate to political, religious or racial activities or causes during an international game.”
The controversy has not died down with reports suggesting that Dhoni is adamant that he will wear the Army Insignia glove. The ICC, apparently, have threatened to escalate the matter. There has been support pouring in on social media that Dhoni should keep the gloves in while there has been criticism from Pakistan. According to the ICC statement on Insignias, it states, “ICC rules say any insignia worn by any player shouldn't have any religious, military, or commercial significance. In this case, the insignia has none of those connotations.” Vinod Rai, the head of the Committee of Administrators, has said the insignia does not fall into any of those categories but has stated the BCCI will take permission.
Here are other instances when a political statement was made on the cricket and sporting pitch
1) Moeen Ali Free Palestine, Save Gaza Wristband
During the third Test against India in Southampton in 2014, Moeen Ali was spotted wearing a ‘Free Palestine’ and ‘Save Gaza’ wristbands. The England Cricket Board had allowed Moeen to wear the wristband but it was later overturned by the ICC Match Referee David Boon. The ICC match referee released a statement saying, “While he is free to express his views on such causes away from the cricket field, he is not permitted to wear the wristbands on the field of play and warned not to wear the bands again during an international match.”
2) Sri Lanka Tamil protest 1975 World Cup in Kennington Oval, London
Sri Lanka had made their entry in the 1975 World Cup as one of the newest nations on the international stage. Their first game was against Australia at the Kennington Oval but the match was interrupted when several Tamil demonstrators invaded the pitch with placards and banners, condemning Sri Lanka’s treatment of the ethnic Tamil population. Although the protestors were cleared and Sri Lanka lost the game, this was the first instance of a cricket match being disrupted by political protesters.
3) Basil D’Oliviera refused entry to South Africa
During the 1960s, South Africa adopted a very strict policy of apartheid in which people of coloured origins or black origins could not visit the country. The situation reached a boiling point in the case of Basil D’Oliviera, an England player of coloured origin. England was scheduled to tour South Africa in 1968 but South Africa’s Prime Minister John Vorster argued that the England team would not be welcomed if Basil D’Oliviera was included. The tour was cancelled and South Africa was isolated from international cricket for 21 years.
4) Black Power salute 1968 Mexico City Olympics
During the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos each raised a black-gloved fist during the playing of the US national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner". While on the podium, Smith and Carlos, who had won gold and bronze medals respectively in the 200-meter running event of the 1968 Summer Olympics, turned to face the US flag and then kept their hands raised until the anthem had finished. IOC president Avery Brundage ordered Smith and Carlos suspended from the US team and banned from the Olympic Village. When the US Olympic Committee refused, Brundage threatened to ban the entire US track team. This threat led to the expulsion of the two athletes from the Games.
5) Blood in the Water match Hungary vs the Soviet Union 1956 Melbourne Olympics
The water polo match between Hungary and the Soviet Union took place on 6 December 1956 against the background of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and saw Hungary defeat the USSR 4–0. The name was coined after Hungarian player Ervin Zádor emerged during the last two minutes with blood pouring from above his eye after being punched by Soviet player Valentin Prokopov. Many angry spectators jumped onto the concourse beside the water, shook their fists, shouted abuse and spat at the Russians. To avoid a riot, police entered the arena and led the crowd away. Many Hungarian players defected to the West after this incident.