Australian gay soccer star Josh Cavallo opens up on homophobic abuse in A-League match


A young A-League star has recalled his rollercoaster experience since becoming the first active professional male footballer in the world to come out as gay.

Josh Cavallo made international headlines when he revealed his sexuality in October, saying he was done with feeling ashamed about his sexuality and the exhaustion of trying to live a ‘double-life’.

He has since launched fashion label Ralph Lauren’s new RAS Sports Polo and posed for the front cover of the latest issue of men’s magazine GQ Australia.

But Cavallo, 22, also suffered vile homophobic abuse and death threats both on and off the pitch, which he repeatedly called out.

A-League Josh Cavallo could have a future career in modelling after posing for the front cover of GQ Australia

The Adelaide United midfielder was visibly distraught on the field during the final stages of a A-League match on January 9 as he copped homophobic slurs from Melbourne Victory fans.

A week later, Cavallo said he had moved on from the abuse as it was outweighed by the overwhelming support he received.

‘I’m doing really well with it, I have a really good support network around me,’ he told the Today show on Monday.

‘My team, the league and all the clubs around me are doing really well to support me, especially the fans, those who stood up at the game and said ‘That’s not on.’ That was really nice to hear that.

‘Unfortunately it’s a part of life, you will get that as a professional athlete, it’s just how you deal with it and move on with it.

‘I’ve put that behind me and I continue going forward.  I’m looking forward to the good things going forward.’

Adelaide United said Cavallo was sent death threats, which were reported to South Australia Police.

Josh Cavallo is proud to announce a new partnership with designer brand Ralph Lauren

Josh Cavallo is proud to announce a new partnership with designer brand Ralph Lauren

Cavallo had advice for aspiring sport stars trying to navigate through their own personal journeys with sexuality.

‘There’s going to be ups and downs, there are going to be negative points in life but you have to face forward and continue moving forward,’ he said.

‘I still wake up very day and I’m very happy to be comfortable in my own skin.

‘Hearing those bad comments doesn’t do anything to me. I knew when I posted that story of me, I’d already won the race.’

Cavallo hoped his new partnership with Ralph Lauren would bring change for the better. 

‘It was pretty exciting when Ralph Lauren said they want me to help launch the RAS Sports Polo,’ he said. 

‘It’s something I will wear casually but you can also perform in it too. It’s good for training. I really enjoyed partnering with Ralph Lauren for this.’

He also hopes starring on the cover of GQ will help the next generation become fearless and realise the world is for everyone.

The Adelaide United striker (pictured) has opened up about the homophobic abuse he has copped online and at games by fans

The Adelaide United striker (pictured) has opened up about the homophobic abuse he has copped online and at games by fans

While a future career in modelling could be on the cards, any aspirations in tennis have been ruled out following Cavallo’s hit on the court with retired tennis star Sam Groth on the weekend.

‘I’ll stick to the soccer ball,’ he joked. ‘I used to play though before football. Obviously I’m not up to scratch with Sammy!’

Cavallo admitted in a wide-ranging interview for GQ Australia the abuse from the A-League crowd was tough to deal with, but he got 5,000 great messages for every bad one he received.

‘I knew that at some stage in my career I was going to come across something like this. And it was nice to see that when I needed support, the rest of the world was still there to help me. That definitely helped me deal with it,’ he said.

Cavallo said he was unable to discuss the death threats he received while the police investigation was ongoing.

Josh Cavallo says he's moved on from being subjected to homophobic slurs at a recent A-League match against Melbourne Victory

Josh Cavallo says he’s moved on from being subjected to homophobic slurs at a recent A-League match against Melbourne Victory

Cavallo revealed his secret took a heavy toll on him before coming out to the world.

‘I would avoid going out, avoid hanging out with people, so I would be very isolated and lonely for most of the time,’ he told GQ.

‘I would train and that would be my distraction to take my mind off of my worries. And, you know, I would go home and most nights I would go home and I would be in tears or, like, trying to think of this or that conversation I had earlier today. Did I say the right thing?’ 

Melbourne Victory was served with a show-cause notice by Football Australia over the January 9 incident involving its fans.

The club vowed to ban the supporters who made the slurs and has until Tuesday afternoon to respond to the show-cause notice.

Football Australia will work with the A-League and clubs to identify the ‘small contingent’ of supporters who engaged in the abuse to ensure they are banned from attending football matches throughout Australia.

‘I want to reiterate that this conduct is unwelcome in football,’ FA chief executive James Johnson said.

‘Everyone should be able to enjoy participating in our sport regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, ability or disability, cultural or religious background.’

Josh Cavallo hopes his new partnership with iconic fashion label Ralph Lauren will bring change for the better

Josh Cavallo hopes his new partnership with iconic fashion label Ralph Lauren will bring change for the better

Cavallo took to Instagram the day after the match to express his bitter disappointment over the ‘unacceptable’ abuse. 

‘As a society it shows we still face these problems in 2022,’ he wrote.

‘This shouldn’t be acceptable and we need to do more to hold these people accountable. 

‘Hate never will win. I will never apologise for living my truth and most recently who I am outside of football. 

‘To all the young people who have received homophobic abuse, hold your heads up high and keep chasing your dreams. Know that there is no place in the game for this. Football is a game for everyone no matter of who you are, what colour your skin is or where you come from.’

He also took a swipe at Instagram about the hateful and hurtful messages he received online.

‘It’s a sad reality that your platforms are not doing enough to stop these messages,’ he continued.

Adelaide United recently revealed its  star Josh Cavallo (pictured) has received death threats, which are being investigated by police

Adelaide United recently revealed its  star Josh Cavallo (pictured) has received death threats, which are being investigated by police

Read Josh Cavallo’s statement addressing on-field slurs by fans

I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t see or hear the homophobic abuse at the game last night. 

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. 

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

To all the young people who have received homophobic abuse, hold your heads up high and keep chasing your dreams. Know that there is no place in the game for this. 

Football is a game for everyone no matter of who you are, what colour your skin is or where you come from.

To Instagram I don’t want any child or adult to have to receive the hateful and hurtful messages that I’ve received. 

I knew truly being who I am that I was going to come across this. It’s a sad reality that your platforms are not doing enough to stop these messages.

Thank you to all the positive messages, love and support, seeing that far outweighs the negativity. 

To the individuals that reached out after making a stand at the game. I commend you. Thank you to those fans, you had me emotional.

Love will always win 

 



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