Adelaide United midfielder Josh Cavallo publicly acknowledged his homosexuality on Wednesday, becoming the first active footballer to come out of the closet in Australia’s top league.
“I’m a footballer and I’m gay,” said the 21-year-old on social media, receiving supportive comments from his team, the league and the Australian federation.
Cavallo, who was an Australian under-20 international, explained that he no longer wanted to keep his sexuality a secret.
“All I want is to play soccer and be treated equally,” he wrote.
“Trying to perform to the best of your ability and maintain this double life is exhausting, it is something that nobody wants to experience,” he said.
Despite its worldwide popularity and vast number of players, very few male footballers have come out of the closet, most after retiring to avoid homophobic comments from the stands.
The first professional footballer to recognize his homosexuality was the British Justin Fashanu, in 1990, but he was never accepted in the stadiums and committed suicide in 1998.
Cavallo acknowledged that Fashanu’s case crossed his mind as he pondered whether to acknowledge his sexuality, but described the “immense” support from the club, his teammates and the authorities.
It’s okay to be gay and play soccer. I want to show it to everyone who is suffering and is afraid, “he said. AFP (HN)