Adelaide United Soccer Club has been in the doldrums since its inception, but it was always Josh Cavallo’s determination and hard work that made it possible for the team to emerge as a force. Now he is running out of steam after being subjected to anti-Semitic abuse from Adelaide fans who are angry at his contract extension.
After becoming the focus of anti-gay chants during Adelaide United’s 1-1 draw with Melbourne Victory on Saturday, Josh Cavallo, the world’s first out homosexual top-flight male professional footballer, proclaimed that “hate will never prevail.”
Cavallo said in an Instagram post that he had received anti-gay comments from fans and on social media after making a 36-minute cameo off the bench on Saturday evening, which ended with him being escorted through Victory’s enthusiastic supporters after being pulled with a suspected concussion.
Cavallo added, “I’m not going to pretend I didn’t witness or hear the homophobic trash during the game last night.”
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“There are no words to express my disappointment. As a culture, this demonstrates that we are still dealing with similar issues in 2022. This is unacceptable, and we must do more to hold these individuals responsible.
“Hate will never triumph.
“I will never apologize for being who I am outside of football and for living my truth.” Hold your heads up, young individuals who have faced homophobic abuse, and keep pursuing your aspirations. Understand that this has no place in the game.
“No matter who you are, what color your skin is, or where you originate from, football is a game for everyone.”
Cavallo, who grimly admitted that he had anticipated to be mistreated as a result of his disclosure, also urged on Instagram to do more to combat abusive comments that may be received via the network.
He also expressed gratitude to individuals who had offered letters of support in the aftermath of the tragedy, as well as those who had spoken out against the insults during the game.
“To Instagram,” the 22-year-old wrote, “I don’t want any kid or adult to have to suffer the horrible and terrible words that I’ve gotten.”
“I knew I was going to run into this because of who I am. Your platforms are not doing enough to block these messages, which is a terrible truth.
“Thank you for all of the wonderful words, love, and support from individuals all around the globe, which greatly outnumber the negative comments. To everyone who contacted me after taking a stance at the game. I applaud you. Thank you to those fans who made me cry.”
Cavallo made news across the globe in October when he came out as homosexual in a social media post, declaring that he was “glad to openly proclaim that I am gay” after six years.
The statement was met with a worldwide outpouring of sympathy, including a word of encouragement from Victory’s official Twitter account, which responded to his announcement with “Josh, you put it perfectly. You should be proud of yourself.”
Victory criticized the incident in a statement made after Cavallo’s tweet on Sunday.
“During Saturday night’s battle with the Reds at AAMI Park, Melbourne Victory was made aware of homophobic slurs directed against Adelaide United player, Josh Cavallo,” the statement stated.
“The Club is dedicated to honoring football’s diversity and firmly condemns this behavior, which has no place at our club or in our sport.”
“Melbourne Victory views football as a platform to bring supporters from all walks of life together.
“Spectators who are found to have broken these rules will be barred from future games.”
“To further examine the incident, the Club is working with the League, the Stadium, and Adelaide United.”
Cavallo’s club and Professional Players Australia, the organisation that represents Australian footballers, have both condemned the incident.
Adelaide CEO Nathan Kosmina stated, “We are outraged by the verbal abuse Josh suffered from spectators at AAMI Park last night.”
“Adelaide United is pleased to be an open and diverse football club, and it is sad and distressing to see one of our players exposed to homophobic abuse.”
“Josh continues to shown incredible bravery, and we join him in condemning abuse, which has no place in society and will not be accepted by our club.”
“We will continue to collaborate with the Australian Professional Leagues and Melbourne Victory to identify and punish culprits,” says the statement.
In a joint statement, PFA Co-Chief Executives Beau Busch and Kathryn Gill said, “Josh has showed incredible bravery, and those who attempted to insult him in the stadium and online have shown their cowardice.”
“Those who attempt to aim terrible abuse at others have no place in our game, in our society.”
The Australian Professional Leagues, which oversees the A-League Men’s tournament, released a statement on Sunday expressing its “shock and sadness” at the anti-gay remarks aimed against Cavallo, promising to “examine the event and will apply punishments to any personnel discovered to be engaged.”