9:52 AM PDT, October 27, 2021
Australian soccer star Josh Cavallo has come out on social media to tell the world he is gay, making him the first active professional player in the sport to publicly disclose his sexuality, NBC Sports reported.
Cavallo, who plays midfield for Adelaide United, came out in a video posted to his club’s social media accounts Wednesday.
“Growing up, I always felt the need to hide myself, you know, because I was ashamed,” Cavallo said. “Ashamed I would never be able to do what I loved and be gay.”
“All I want to do is to play football and be treated equally,” he continued. “I’m tired trying to perform at the best of your ability and live this double life. It’s exhausting. It’s something I don’t want anyone to experience.”
In the video, the 21-year-old said he had been fighting his sexuality for six years and “glad” he can “put that to rest.”
“Being a closeted gay footballer, I’ve had to learn to mask my feelings in order to fit the mold of a professional footballer. …Growing up being gay and playing football were just two worlds that hadn’t crossed paths before,” he added.
Adelaide United coach Carl Veart said in a statement that the player has “shown incredible courage to be one of very few professional sportsmen to be this brave. I have nothing but admiration and support for him, as do all the players and coaching staff.”
Following Cavallo’s disclosure, F.C. Barcelona and Spanish soccer legend Girard Pique came out to support his colleague on Twitter.
“Hey @JoshuaCavallo, I don’t have the pleasure to know you personally but I want to thank you for this step that you take. The world of football is far behind and you are helping us move forward,” Pique wrote.
Cavallo did call out the lack of LGBTQIA+ players in professional men’s soccer, saying, “currently no gay professional footballers who are out and actively playing, not only in Australia, but around the world.”
He hopes by coming out this will create a dialogue and a push for change, The Independent reported.