Cape Town – Former Pakistani all-rounder Shahid Afridi batted away allegations of misogyny this week as pundits lashed out at the cricket star’s affirmation that he will not give his little girls a chance to play outside games.
The remarks were just the latest controversy stemming from Afridi’s tell-all autobiography – “Game Changer” – released in Pakistan and India last week.
“It’s for social and religious reasons that I’ve made this decision regarding my daughters not competing in public sporting activities and their mother agrees with me,” wrote Afridi.
“The feminists can say what they want; as a conservative Pakistani father, I’ve made my decision,” he added.
In the book, the cricketer also unleashed withering criticism against old teammates – including erstwhile World Cup captain and current Prime Minister Imran Khan – and admitted to being slightly older than previously reported, drawing accusations he was not the youngest player to set the record for scoring 100 runs in an international.
However, his comments about his four daughters – who are aged between 10 and 20 years old – may have proven to be the most galling to the public with social media users labeling the all-rounder a “misogynist” and “hypocrite”.
“Afridi is no better than a typical middle-aged average Pakistani guy, who wouldn’t mind hanging out with someone else’s daughters but would balk if his own did the same,” tweeted Salman Siddiq.
“His daughters, his decisions? Really?? So the girls’ voices and choices don’t matter? Not even when they’re adults? Because #FatherHasSpoken,” added Asha Bedar on Twitter.
Pakistani author Bina Shah also roasted Afridi, telling the BBC his decision was an example of “Pakistani macho culture that says I am the father, I can say what my daughters are going to do and not do, and there is not a thing that you can do to stop me.”
Others pointed to the examples set by other athletes on the issue, including Egyptian football star at Liverpool Mohamed Salah who has advocated for the equal treatment of women in the Islamic world.
Salah made headlines over the weekend after a viral video showed him proudly celebrating as his four-year-old daughter scored a goal ahead of Liverpool’s last game of the season at Anfield.
But back in Pakistan, Afridi pushed back at the criticism.
“I don’t judge anyone or meddle in people’s life,” Afridi tweeted on Sunday.
“I expect the same too from others. May Allah bless my daughters and daughters/women all over the world! Let people be. My daughters are very precious to me! My life revolves around them.”
Afridi retired from professional cricket in 2016 but he continues to be a mainstay on Pakistani television, frequently starring in commercials while also attending high-profile sporting events.