Josh Cavallo has told homophobes that “hatred will never win” after being abused in an Australian A-League match between Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory.
The Adelaide defender stayed the first active top player in men’s football to come out as gay in October last year and draw backing from other professionals around the worldbut said he had “no words” to describe the abuse he received Saturday night.
“I will not pretend that I did not see or hear the homophobic assault at last night’s match,” Cavallo said on Instagram. “There are no words to tell you how disappointed I was.
“This should not be acceptable and we need to do more to hold people accountable. Hatred will never win.
“I will never apologize for living my truth and most recently who I am outside of football.”
Cavallo said “there is no room” for the abuse he heard in Melbourne after coming in as a substitute in the 54th minute.
He added: “To all the young people who have received homophobic abuse, keep your head high and keep chasing your dreams. Know that there is no room in the game for this. Football is a game for everyone, no matter who you are, what color your skin is or where you come from. ”
The 22-year-old also urged Instagram to do more to stop abuse on its platform.
“I do not want any child or adult to receive the hateful and hurtful messages I have received. I really knew to be who I am that I would come out for this. It is a sad reality that your platforms are not doing enough to stop these messages. ”
The A-League issued a statement saying it was “shocked and saddened to hear reports of homophobic bullying … directed at Josh Cavallo.
“There is no room for bullying, harassment or abuse in Australian football and we have zero tolerance for this harmful behavior.”
Cavallo could be a giant for next-generation analytics
By Daniel Storey (from October)
It would be great if Josh Cavallo had not become internationally famous. He would have come out to his teammates and his coaches, just like he came out to his family. They would have offered their love and support, and then Adelaide United would have returned to training, ready for the upcoming season. The world would not read about Cavallo because Cavallo would not be considered a special case.
But Cavallo is a news story because he now exists in a group of one. He is the only current best male professional football player who has come out as gay. His courage is to be commended, for he was clearly aware of the effect his announcement would have. Adelaide United should also be praised because they had obviously created an environment where Cavallo was comfortable being himself.
The inevitable response from some on social media – those who are deliberately fooled or sneak through ignorance – is “so what?”. To that, the answer is exactly the same: he is the only one.
If Cavallo can discuss his experiences with the same maturity – he is a 22-year-old child, remember – when discussing his sexuality, he will make a difference. He wants to make life a little easier, make the journey to understanding and pride in their sexuality. Cavallo’s route to this point might have been easier if there had been shoulders of giants to stand on. Others can now stand on his shoulders.
But then “what then?” is both a deeply cynical reaction and the ultimate goal. Why would a player’s sexuality make any difference to their ability to fulfill their potential as a football player or be an excellent teammate or employee? There are no reasons. This is news because Josh Cavallo is an exception. He is an exception because football – and culture – has not yet created a climate where others like him feel safe revealing themselves.