Gay footballer Josh Cavallo says ‘hate will never win’ after receiving homophobic abuse

Josh Cavallo of Adelaide United on the match

Josh Cavallo, the pathbreaking gay professional top-flight men’s footballer, has been subjected to homophobic abuse during a match.

The Adelaide United player, 22, was roped into Saturday’s (8 January) Adelaide United’s draw against Melbourne Victory in Australia’s A-League.

Cavallo, who came out in October, said there were “no words” to express his disappointment after fans lobbed slurs and booed him from the AAMI Park stands after he came on as a second-half substitute.

It was a nauseating turnaround from the wave of love and support he received across the globe from players past and present when he first shared his truth.

Now just two months later, Cavallo was left speechless when the crowd targeted him.

“I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t see or hear the homophobic abuse at the game last night,” the left-back said in a statement shared on his Twitter.

“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.”

“I will never apologise for living my truth and most recently, who I cam outside of football.

Josh Cavallo tells young LGBT+ people there is ‘no place for hate’

Addressing young queer people, Josh Cavallo called on them to “hold your heads up high and keep chasing your dreams”.

“Know that there is no place in the game for this,” he added. “Football is a game for everyone, no matter who you are, what colour your skin is or where you come from.”

Cavallo sounded a much harsher tone for social media services, however. Revealing that the abuse he received on the match continued online, too, Cavallo called on Instagram and Twitter to do better with tackling bullying.

“I don’t want any child or adult to have to receive the hateful and hurtful messages that I’ve received,” he wrote.

Adelaide United's Josh Cavallo kicks a football in a match against Sydney FC

Josh Cavallo of Adelaide United kicks during the A-League match against Sydney FC at Leichhardt Oval, on 18 April 2021, in Sydney, Australia. (Getty/Cameron Spencer)

“It’s a sad reality that your platforms are not doing enough to stop these messages.”

Both Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory condemned the homophobic barbs flung at Cavallo, adding that they are working together with the Australian Professional Leagues to identify and prosecute the perpetrators.

“The Club is committed to celebrating diversity in football, and strongly condemns this behaviour which has no place at our Club or in our game,” the club wrote in a statement on its website.

“Spectators found to have breached these standards will be banned from future matches.

Adelaide United chief executive officer, Nathan Kosima, said the abuse against one of his team members was “disappointing and upsetting” in a statement.

“Josh continues to show immense courage,” Kosima said, “and we join him in calling out abuse, which has no place in society, and it will not be tolerated by our Club.”