Openly gay footballer Josh Cavallo says he was ‘not enjoying life’ pretending to be straight

Australian footballer Josh Cavallo says he was ‘not enjoying life’ pretending to be straight in an interview with Attitude magazine

Australian professional footballer Josh Cavallo has admitted he was ‘not enjoying life’ pretending to be straight and would worry about coming out to his friends and family during matches. 

He also revealed he has not heard anything from world governing body FIFA since he went public in October.

The Adelaide United left back publicly announced he is gay in October, adding he wanted to show ‘everyone is welcome in the game of football’.

Cavallo, who has represented Australia at Under-20 level, became the only known current male top-flight footballer to publicly say he is gay when he came out. 

The Australian received a wave of support from the football community after releasing an emotional and widely-praised video, which has now been viewed more than 11 million times, saying he was done with feeling ashamed about his sexuality and the exhaustion of trying to live a ‘double-life’. 

Cavallo announced the news ahead of the new A-League season in a lengthy social media post. He has played 90 minutes in both of Adelaide United’s A-League games so far, helping them to a pair of draws.

The 22-year-old said it was ‘astonishing to know there are no gay professional footballers who are out and actively playing’ and that he wanted to show ‘others who identify as LGBTQ+ that they are welcome in the football community’. 

Cavallo’s announcement was greeted by a series of positive responses, with the likes of Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford, Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson and Barcelona defender Gerard Pique among a host of footballers to support him. 

In an interview in the January issue of Attitude, which is out now, Cavallo has opened up on the battle he faced with his own sexuality when he was struggling to hide his true self.

He said: ‘I am really close to my brother, Christian. But I did not even tell him about what I was going through. When I FaceTimed him — and by that point he knew — he said, “Josh, I have never seen you smiling like this before.”

‘That made me sad to think my brother had only just seen that big smile from me. If I close my eyes now, I can still see his face smiling at me, proud of me.

‘I didn’t want to lie to my friends and loved ones. I wouldn’t want them doing that to me, so why would I do it to them? It was the fact, too, that I could not be myself around my friends. 

Cavallo became the only known current male gay top-flight player when he came out in October

Cavallo became the only known current male gay top-flight player when he came out in October

‘Also, when I was on the pitch, I was thinking about conversations I might need to have afterwards and making up stories on the spot. It is a hard double life to live. As a professional athlete, you cannot have distractions like this. 

‘I remember a game where I just started thinking, in the middle of it, how I would tell my friends and family about [my sexuality]. I reached a point where I was considering whether my happiness was worth more to me than playing football. 

‘I did not want to continue living as a straight footballer and I was not enjoying life. I wanted to express who I am. I did not want to continue the act. It is tiring and it is exhausting to perform this act.’

In the days after coming out, Cavallo said he would be ‘scared’ to play at next year’s World Cup in Qatar should Australia qualify.

The 22-year-old has played for Australia’s youth team but has yet to receive a call-up to the senior squad who are currently trying to qualify for the tournament. 

Homosexual acts are banned under Qatari law and punishments range from at least a year to a decade in prison, with a 2019 ‘danger index’ rating Qatar as the second most dangerous place to visit for LGBT+ travellers.

Cavallo admits he would worry about coming out to his friends and family during matches

Cavallo also revealed he has not heard anything from world governing body FIFA since he went public

Cavallo admits he would worry about coming out to his friends and family during matches

Meanwhile, muslims in the country can be subjected to Sharia law that bans any sexual activity outside marriage, including homosexuality, with punishments ranging up to the death penalty.

Gay people could, therefore, face execution but several human rights reports have said there is no evidence to suggest this has happened.

Speaking about the possibility of him playing in Qatar, Cavallo told the Guardian’s Today in Focus: ‘I read something along the lines of that [they] give the death penalty for gay people in Qatar, so it’s something I’m very scared [of] and wouldn’t really want to go to Qatar for that.

‘And that saddens me. At the end of the day the World Cup is in Qatar and one of the greatest achievements as a professional footballer is to play for your country, and to know that this is in a country that doesn’t support gay people and puts us at risk of our own life, that does scare me and makes me re-evaluate – is my life more important than doing something really good in my career?’ 

In his interview with Attitude, Cavallo revealed FIFA – football’s global governing body and organisers of the World Cup – have made no effort to contact him since he came out.

Cavallo said he would be 'scared' to play in the Qatar 2022 World Cup should Australia qualify

Cavallo said he would be ‘scared’ to play in the Qatar 2022 World Cup should Australia qualify

He adde: ‘Unfortunately it has not happened yet. I am looking forward to possibly hearing something about it.

‘It is a huge topic. I stand with my LGBTQ family, particularly in the Middle East or other countries around the world where people have to hide their sexuality or gender identity due to discrimination and human rights violations.’ 

But the chief executive of the tournament said Cavallo has no reason to feel unsafe in Qatar. 

‘On the contrary, we welcome him here in the state of Qatar, we welcome him to come and see even prior to the World Cup,’ Nasser Al Khater told CNN.

‘Nobody feels threatened here, nobody feels unsafe. The notion that people don’t feel safe here is untrue.

‘I’ve said this before and I say this to you again, everybody is welcome here. Everybody will feel safe here.

‘Qatar is a tolerant country. It’s a welcoming country, it’s a hospitable country.’

The January issue of Attitude is out now. 

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