It’s a sequence of a few seconds, shared on social networks. A touching video, of powerful emotion. A message that will mark the history of football. Facing the camera Josh Cavallo, a young 21-year-old Australian player, struggles to express himself, hesitates to find the right words, his eyes cloudy. After a few moments, he finally found the strength to take the plunge: “Hello everyone, I’m Josh Cavallo. I have something personal to share with you: I am a football player and I am gay. “
These few words seem to liberate the young man. If former players have waited until the end of their careers to reveal their sexual orientation, the midfielder of the Adelaide United club (A-League) is the first to come out during his career. Unlike their female counterparts, athletes still have a hard time breaking this taboo and confessing their homosexuality.
“It’s been a long journey to get there, but I couldn’t be happier with my decision to come out,” he wrote on his twitter and Instagram accounts. I’ve been battling my sexuality for over six years now, and I’m glad I can put that aside. “
In the video, the player goes further. “I’m sick of trying to live this double life, it’s exhausting. I was afraid of how people would react when they found out, afraid they would start treating me differently, or saying bad things about me or making fun of me. This is not the case. On the contrary, you would gain more respect from people. All I want is to play football and be treated equally. “
He also explains his inability to reveal his homosexuality in an environment as macho as that of sport. “As a gay footballer, I had to learn to hide my feelings to fit into the mold of a professional footballer. Growing up being gay and playing soccer is not easy. Statistics show that only 33% of young gay men play football compared to 68% of young straight men. I lived my life assuming this was a topic that should never be discussed. “
The subject is indeed delicate, prohibited in the locker rooms. Before him, no professional footballers had spoken about their homosexuality during their career. The former German international Thomas Hitzlsperger waited the year following his retirement to announce publicly in 2014. Ouissem Belgacem, former resident of the Toulouse training center, had drawn a line on his career and had told his story in an autobiography ” Goodbye my shame ”released at the beginning of the year.
Only Andy Brennan, also Australian, had spoken while he was still active. But he was playing at the time, in 2019, in a minor championship.
Josh Cavallo’s video could move the lines and encourage speeches to change consciousness. “Hopefully that will change in the near future,” he says.