Openly gay footballer Josh Cavallo shut down homophobic trolls after facing anti-LGBTQ+ abuse during a recent match.
On 8 January, Adelaide United played an away game against the Melbourne Victory.
During the match’s second half, spectators spewed homophobic remarks at Cavallo.
Shortly after the game, the 22-year-old condemned the abuse in a lengthy post on Instagram.
“I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t see or hear the homophobic abuse at the game last night. There are no words to tell you how disappointed I was,” he wrote.
“As a society it shows we still face these problems in 2022. This shouldn’t be acceptable and we need to do more to hold these people accountable. Hate never will win. I will never apologise for living my truth and most recently who I am outside of football.
“To all the young people who have received homophobic abuse, hold your heads up high and keep chasing your dreams. Know that there is no place in the game for this.”
Cavallo also called out Instagram for its lack of action regarding the online abuse on the platform.
“To Instagram, I don’t want any child or adult to have to receive the hateful and hurtful messages that I’ve received,” he said.
“I knew truly being who I am that I was going to come across this. It’s a sad reality that your platforms are not doing enough to stop these messages.”
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Shortly after his emotive post, the Australian Professional League (APL) announced that they would be investigating the incident.
“Our players, staff and fans have the right to feel safe on and off the pitch. There is no place for bullying, harassment or abuse in Australian football and we have zero tolerance for this harmful behaviour,” said APL CEO Danny Townsend.
“We fully support Josh Cavallo and want to ensure he can focus on his football performance, rather than on vile abuse. We will continue to concentrate our efforts on creating safe and welcoming A-Leagues for all.”
Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory echoed similar sentiments and also expressed their disappointment with the fans.
“Melbourne Victory sees football as a platform to unite fans no matter what background. Spectators found to have breached these standards will be banned from future matches,” their statement read.
The homophobic incident comes a few months after Cavallo became the world’s first openly gay male top-flight professional footballer.
In an open letter and video, he gave insight into his coming out journey and internal struggles.
“It’s been a journey to get to this point in my life, but I couldn’t be happier with my decision to come out,” he wrote.
“I have been fighting my sexuality for six years now and I’m glad I can put that to rest.”
Josh’s Truth pic.twitter.com/NKSEP2kVWV
— Adelaide United (@AdelaideUnited) October 27, 2021