Josh Cavallo poses during the Adelaide United A-League headshots session at Adelaide Entertainment Centre on September 21, 2022 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images for A-League)

Out Footballer Josh Cavallo Opens Up About Receiving Death Threats, FIFA Hosting World Cup in Saudi Arabia

Emell Adolphus READ TIME: 3 MIN.

Soccer player Josh Cavallo is a proud gay man since coming out to the world October 2021. But that hasn't slowed down his activism and advocacy for other LGBTQ+ people and making sure his favorite sport is inclusive.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Mirror, Cavallo shared a lot of personal tidbits about his coming out journey, including how he has received death threats for living in his truth and speaking his mind.

"Everyone tends to ask me 'how can we grow football,'" said Cavallo, and his answer has been inclusivity.

"In the A-Leagues we created a Pride round and that's something which changed the way that Australians look at football in Pride and it got a fantastic response," he explained. "Not a lot of people overseas are doing the same thing. For me, it's not just one day that we celebrate, it's something we consistently think of. It affects people. Clubs should turn around and support LGBT+ people."

In the interview, Cavallo also encouraged soccer clubs and FIFA to consider the toll it takes on its LGBTQ+ players, even if they are not out, to play games in countries where their sexuality is criminalized.

Particularly, Cavallo pointed to FIFA hosting the World Cup in Saudi Arabia.

"I honestly wouldn't feel safe," Cavallo said about the Saudi World Cup match. "It's so sad to say that but even in my football career, there's certain countries I will not go to and play my club football or play with the national team in."

LGBTQ+ people often have to choose between living comfortably as themselves and their livelihoods, explained Cavallo.

"At the end of the day, it comes to a point where it's your livelihood over your job which for me is incredibly sad because this is what I do, I wake up and I breathe football, this is what I'm made for," he said. "To know that I'm limited and stuck in certain countries because they don't approve of how I love or how I live my life is quite saddening."

In Cavallo's opinion, the sport has a lot of progress to make in order for more players to feel comfortable coming out.

"I know for a fact that there's professional soccer players who aren't out and are playing at the highest levels too," he said. "If we had clubs who back that and say 'hey actually having the World Cup in Saudi Arabia isn't right let's do something to raise awareness and have our voice on it,'" things would be much different for players, added Cavallo.

Although the 24-year-old admitted that his advocacy has come with a cost, with him regularly receiving threatening messages warning him "you will die," the good outweighs the bad for him.

"Obviously online I can't control what people are going to say and do, but this is me, this is who I am," Cavallo said. "Unfortunately because I'm in the public eye and I'm the first representation of an openly-gay footballer, I am a bit of a target.

He added, "But I know the impact it's having, how happy it's making people, how it's helping people come out of their shell and come out of their bubble that they've been stuck in their whole lives."

Read Cavallo's full interview in The Mirror.

by Emell Adolphus

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