Josh Cavallo @BelgaImage
«I am a footballer and I am proud to be gay“. It is with this sentence that the footballer Josh Cavallo, 21, made his gay coming out this Wednesday on Twitter and Instagram. He is the only active football player playing in a first division championship to admit to being homosexual. A gesture hailed by several major international figures in this sport such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Antoine Griezmann, Raphaël Varane, Gerard Piqué, etc. Clubs like Liverpool, Juventus Turin, FC Barcelona and Arsenal also applauded. Even stars like Ellen DeGeneres and Lil Nas X praised the young man for his speech. And yet, football remains a more than inhospitable environment for the LGBT + community. Because obviously, the Australian is not the only first division footballer to be homosexual in this sport, but no one wanted to reveal his secret openly… except Josh Cavallo.
— Josh Cavallo (@JoshuaCavallo) October 27, 2021
«I’m sick of trying to live this double life»
«It’s been a long journey to get there, but I couldn’t be happier with my decision to come out. I’ve been struggling with my sexuality for over six years now, and I’m glad I can put that asideSays the Adelaide United midfielder, who explains why it was so difficult for him to get there. “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 we should never talk about».
«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 equallySays Josh Cavallo.
Since this statement, the footballer says he is very moved by the many supports he has received. “I am so overwhelmed and happy with the response I received. I want to send a message to the whole 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 what you look like or believe in. At the end of the day, it’s 2021 and it’s time to change that in football», He declares on Sky Sport.
The fear of being “ crucified»
At present, coming out in football remains extremely rare. There are some but they are retired players, like that of former Mannschaft member Thomas Hitzlsperger in 2014. In Belgium, Maxime Legrand, player for Wallonia Walhain and RJ Wavre, also waited for the end of his career to do the same. “It was this background that kept me from saying it. I did not have a referent, there are stars in this field who are homosexual, but they are silent“, He confided in 2019.
The most recent evidence of this omert was a week ago. On Monday, October 18, The Sun relayed the testimony of a Premier League football player who wanted to remain anonymous while revealing to be homosexual. Qualified as “high-flying british starShe describes what it’s like to live with this secret in football. “I want to be open with people because that’s who I am and I’m proud of. But the truth is that I will be crucified», He said, because«there are fans in the stands for whom it’s still the 1980s». «When I play, I feel like the fans can guess and judge me (…) It had a terrible effect on me mentally. It’s terrifying».
Coming outs that can be counted on the fingers of one hand
There are, however, in the history of football examples of active players who came out at the time. The most striking case is that of Justin Fashanu, the first British colored footballer whose transfer exceeded the million pounds mark (to Nottingham Forrest in 1981). In 1990, he made his homosexuality public. Immediately, several of his teammates reject him, including his brother, John, who is also a footballer. Eight years later, he committed suicide. In a letter written just before, he mentioned his legal proceedings in the United States, believing that the American justice did not treat him normally because of his homosexuality.
It was not until 2011 that another active footballer, Anton Hysen, playing in the third division, came out. Then in the United States, Robbie Rogers, did the same in 2013 when he was in Major League Soccer, North America’s main football league. He then declared that he had to take his early retirement reluctantly, given the content of this revelation. He finally continued his career at the Galaxy in Los Angeles before quitting football in 2017. Then in 2018, Collin Martin also revealed his homosexuality. He was in Major League Soccer at the time. Since then, he has fallen back to the American second division and faces homophobic insults, as in 2020 from the player of Phoenix Junior Flemmings.
Tonight my team, @MNUFC , is having their Pride night. It’s an important night for me — I’ll be announcing that I am an openly gay player in Major League Soccer. #soccerforall pic.twitter.com/cOJQXfrBiv
— Collin Martin (@martcw12) June 29, 2018
Last year, the Sun finally reported an anonymous letter with “Premier League star about to come out” who said “feel trapped». «My fear is that revealing the truth of who I am will only make it worse“, He confided before concluding:”When the first one comes out, there will be plentyWhich will follow.