Openly gay footballer Josh Cavallo shared his thoughts on potentially playing in the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Back in October, the Adelaide United player made LGBTQ+ history as one of the first openly gay male top-flight professional footballers.
Since his historic announcement, Cavallo has remained an open book regarding his life and goals as a queer athlete.
In a recent interview with Sky Sports, the 22-year-old opened up about the upcoming World Cup in Qatar and revealed that he would play in the tournament if he was invited.
“I definitely go to the World Cup. I want to show it’s okay for everyone,” he said. “It’s not just okay for Josh Cavallo because he’s a footballer, and he’s protected, I want it to be okay for that everyday person.”
However, Cavallo also expressed his reservations about attending the event due to the country’s strict anti-LGBTQ+ laws.
In Qatar, homosexuality is illegal and can be punished by penalties including flogging, imprisonment and even execution.
“It does concern me. If I represent Australia at the World Cup – and I’m pushing for that – it would be an honour, but a the same time, the laws clash,” he said.
“I want to do something really good in my career – I’ve always dreamed of playing for my country at the World Cup – but do I want my life to be in danger?”
This isn’t the first time that Cavallo has opened up about the country’s harsh anti-LGBTQ+ penalties.
In a 2021 interview on The Guardian’s Today in Focus podcast, the young talent said the country’s policies made him “re-evaluate” his potential participation in the event.
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“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],” he told the news outlet.
Cavallo’s recent comments join an array of sports professionals who have also called out Qatar and their laws.
In a recent interview with Funke, German football director Oliver Bierhoff said the country’s restrictive rules are “unacceptable,” stating: “It in no way corresponds to my views.”
He also questioned FIFA’s selection process regarding where future World Cups are held.
“The award criteria must be closely linked to human rights issues,” he added.
Olympic gold medalist Tom Daley has also criticised the Gulf state and other anti-LGBTQ+ countries for hosting major sporting events.
“But I just think that any country that has, you know, laws criminalising LGBT shouldn’t be hosting major sporting events. A country like Russia should not be hosting major sporting events [or] the World Cup in Qatar,” he told GQ in 2021.
“No wonder there’s no out footballers. When you see how racism in sports is still so prevalent, homophobia is definitely going to be there [too].”
The 2022 World Cup is expected to take place between November and December.