Josh Cavallo, who last year became the world’s only top-flight gay professional footballer, denounced homophobic abuse during Adelaide United’s A-League draw against Melbourne Victory.
The 22-year-old entered as a substitute in the 54th minute in Melbourne on Saturday and said he had “no words” to describe his disappointment at receiving abuse from the crowd and on social media.
“I’m not going to pretend I didn’t see or hear the homophobic abuse during last night’s game,” Cavallo said on social media. “There are no words to tell you how disappointed I was.
“This shouldn’t be acceptable and we need to do more to hold people accountable. As a society, this shows that we still have to address these issues in 2022.
“I will never apologize for living my truth and, more recently, who I am outside of football.”
The A-League said they were shocked and saddened to learn of homophobic bullying and will investigate Cavallo’s claims.
A statement read: “There is no place for bullying, harassment or abuse in Australian football and we have no tolerance for this harmful behavior.”
Adelaide and Victory also condemned Cavallo’s abuses.
A victory statement read: “The club is committed to celebrating diversity in football and strongly condemns this behavior which has no place in our club or game.
“Melbourne Victory sees football as a platform to unite fans, regardless of background. Spectators who have violated these standards will be banned from future matches.”
Nathan Kosmina, CEO of Adelaide Utd, said: “We are shocked by the verbal abuse Josh has received from fans at AAMI Park.
“Adelaide United are proud to be an inclusive and diverse football team and to see one of our players being homophobic abused is disappointing and upsetting.
“Josh continues to show immense courage and we join him in denouncing the abuses, which have no place in society and will not be tolerated by our club.”
Horse: Football needs to change to become welcoming to LGBT + players
spoke to Cavallo Sky Sports News in October, after publicly declaring himself gay and believing his decision was a time when football “changes” and becomes a more welcoming environment for LGBT + players.
He said: “I want to convey a message to the world to show that no matter who you are, what you believe in or what culture or background you come from, everyone is accepted in football. It should be based on your talent not on what you look like or in. believe.
“At the end of the day, we are in 2021 and it is time to change this in football. To have this day today, I am so overwhelmed and happy with the response I have received.
“I was very shocked and taken aback that the news went around the world. I am so honored and grateful that the clubs are bypassing me, the players are bypassing me and eventually I will get back to everyone, I am grateful for your support so thank you all.
“I struggled a lot not to be able to look up at someone and know that no one had ever done this before, so it was hard for me to come out and it took me about six years. So I understand the pain, I know what it feels like I like being in the shadows and living a double life and lying to the people you care about. “