Josh Cavallo, the first out gay player in Australia’s top soccer league, says fans targeted him with homophobic insults during a match Saturday — and continued the abuse online.
Cavallo drew attention to the incident with a post Sunday on Instagram, in which he denounced the verbal attacks.
“I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t see or hear the homophobic abuse at the game last night,” he wrote. “There are no words to tell you how disappointed I was. As a society it shows we still face these problems in 2022. This shouldn’t be acceptable and we need to do more to hold these people accountable. Hate never will win.”
Cavallo publicly came out last October in both a video and written statement. The Adelaide United player received support across professional soccer, stretching across many continents.
But apparently, there’s been an undercurrent of hate directed towards Cavallo on social media. The midfielder also called out threats he’s received on social media in his post.
Adelaide United have asked Australian police to investigate the “disturbing and specific death threats” levied against Cavallo, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
The in-game incident happened Saturday night during Adelaide’s 1-1 draw against Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park in Melbourne. Sources told the Sydney Morning Herald Victory fans were singing “if you want to stay alive, go home gypsy” at Cavallo as he exited the pitch following a collision with another player. Some individuals also yelled anti-gay insults at Cavallo, the paper reports.
Outsports requested details about the episode from Adelaide, but hasn't heard back. We will update this post if we do.
The Australian Professional Leagues has said it will ban the fans from future matches if they can be identified.
Adelaide chief executive Nathan Kosmina told the Sydney Morning Herald that Cavallo, 22, has been dealing with the abuse since he came out.
“He’s arguably the highest profile men’s player in the league now, in terms of the global reach of his name and brand. With that, and our sport being global, means that he gets comments from all over the world - majority positive, but there’s an element that is negative,” Kosmina said. “And that is ongoing.”
That’s an important point. Cavallo is one of the most famous soccer players in the world right now, and thus, his social media reach goes far beyond his team’s supporters. As Kosmina said, the majority of comment directed towards Cavallo are positive. But it just takes a few homophobes to spread hate.
As one of the game’s stars, Cavallo deserves credit for using his influential platform to call out abuse. There are many young LGBTQ soccer players who probably benefitted from reading his words.
Cavallo is showing that bigotry won’t silence him. In fact, it will just propel him to speak louder.