A high-profile Australian footballer has revealed for the first time that he is gay. It is rare all over the world for a professional player to come out. Josh Cavallo announced on social media that he no longer wanted to be ashamed of his sexuality and that he had finished his attempts to live a double life.
“I want to share something personal with everyone: I’m a footballer and I’m gay,” said the 21-year-old Adelaide United midfielder. “All I want is to play football and be treated like everyone else. I was too tired to perform at the highest level and to live a double life. It is exhausting, something I wish no one would go through.”
There is hardly any footballer in professional football who expresses his preference for men. Cavallo is the first in the world to come out for his sexuality while still being active at such a high level. Cavallo explained his initial skepticism: “I was afraid that people would think of me differently if they found out.” “I was afraid of insults and jokes.” But now that he’s out to his teammates and coaches, he’s lifted a weight off his shoulders. I get a lot of respect back, it’s unbelievable. It’s okay to be a soccer player and gay.”
Wait until after “retirement”
Australian Andy Brennan was the first A-League player to go out in 2019, but he didn’t do so until he was active at a lower level. Germany’s Thomas Hitzlsberger, who has played for Aston Villa and VfB Stuttgart, is among the most famous former footballers to have come out. Wait for ten months after he “retired” as a professional..American Robbie Rogers came out after he announced in 2013 that he would stop playing football. A few months later, he got his sports career back on track: he signed with LA Galaxy and won the MLS Cup with his team. He was the first gay soccer player to win a major in the United States.
There is currently no openly gay professional footballer in the Netherlands. Last summer, an anonymous Dutch professional player told his story on the De Schaduwspits podcast. He fears it will hurt his career if he goes out, even though “the majority of the public wouldn’t care”. “It’s that little part that bothers you. For example, from the cheers in stadiums. And my biggest fear is the foreign story. Why would I risk working abroad, because I want to scream that I’m on different grounds?”
Former footballer John de Beaver is still the only professional footballer in the Netherlands who was openly gay during his career. He played half a season in professional football in the early 1990s. The Australian Footballers’ Association described it as “a great moment for Cavallo, for the sport and the LGBTI+ community.”
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