Out Soccer Star Josh Cavallo Pushes Back on Homophobic Abuse

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday January 10, 2022

Australia's Josh Cavallo, the world's sole out, active Premier League soccer player, endured homophobic abuse on the field and on social media over the weekend — and he's not having it, UK newspaper the Guardian reported.

"The Adelaide United player came on as a second-half substitute" in the course of a Jan. 8 "A-League Men Game" against the Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park in Melbourne, the account said. Some in the stands hurled anti-LGBTQ+ abuse at him, according to reports.

Addressing the abuse the next day on Instagram, Cavallo said he was "disappointed" and called the slurs "unacceptable."

"I'm not going to pretend that I didn't see or hear the homophobic abuse at the game last night," said Cavallo, who created an instant global sensation when he came out of the closet last October. "There are no words to tell you how disappointed I was. As a society this shows we still face these problems in 2022."

Cavallo, who has previously spoken about having been unhappy as a closeted player, went on to declare he would "never apologize for living my truth and most recently who I am outside of football," before dressing down Instagram for the platform's failure to rein in hateful anti-gay rhetoric.

"I don't want any child or adult to have to receive the hateful and hurtful messages that I've received," the athlete posted, before going on to add: "It's a sad reality that your platforms are not doing enough to stop these messages."

Cavallo encouraged LGBTQ+ youth to stand strong against hate, telling them that "Football is a game for everyone" and "there is no place in the game for this," and exhorting them to "hold your heads up high and keep chasing your dreams," reports conveyed.

The homophobic abuse hurled at Cavallo was roundly condemned. The Daily Mail reported that Adelaide United declared itself "proud to be an inclusive and diverse football club."

"To see one of our players subjected to homophobic abuse is disappointing and upsetting," the club continued in a statement.

The Guardian quoted players' union Professional Footballers Australia as stating that "there is no place in our game, or society, for those who direct abhorrent abuse at others," while "The Victory released a statement condemning the abuse and confirming it was investigating."

The team's statement added: "Melbourne Victory sees football as a platform to unite fans no matter what background," and promised that "Spectators found to have breached these standards will be banned from future matches."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.