Josh Cavallo Exclusive: I have a Qatar World Cup dream, but would my life be in danger? | football news

Josh Cavallo, who last year became the first openly gay player in men’s professional soccer, says he dreams of representing Australia at the World Cup this winter, but has wondered if he would be safe in Qatar.

In an exclusive interview with sky sportsThe 22-year-old also revealed that he had received messages of support from the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Antoine Griezmann after coming out, and expressed his belief that other professional athletes will follow suit.

But among the positive reactions to his announcement there have been negatives, including the fact that, in order to realize his ambition to play for his country in the World Cup, Cavallo would have to be prepared to play in a country where the rights of the people Homosexuals are strongly committed. restricted.

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Nine months after becoming the first known senior male footballer to come out as gay, Adelaide United midfielder Josh Cavallo spoke to Tim Thornton about his life since the announcement and how his decision has helped inspire others.

Amnesty International says that women and LGBTQ+ people continue to face discrimination in Qatar and that censorship has increased in the run-up to the World Cup, but when asked if he would be willing to travel to the country for the tournament, Cavallo said: ” I would definitely go to the World Cup, yes.

“I want to show that it’s okay for everyone. It’s not just okay for Josh Cavallo because he’s a footballer and he’s protected, I want it to be okay for that everyday person.”

“But it worries me. If I represent Australia in the World Cup, and I’m pushing for that, it would be an honour, but at the same time, the laws collide. I want to do something really good in my career. I’ve always dreamed of playing for my country. in the World Cup, but do I want my life to be in danger?

Cavallo, who was capped for Australia at U19 level but has yet to be called up to the senior team, added: “It’s hard and a bit sad. It’s hard to choose which one you want to do.

“But in all my posts there are a lot of people from those countries who have to escape just to be able to live freely and be themselves. I hope this changes in the future because it’s not right the way it’s going right now. It’s something we can definitely turn around.” “.

Cavallo on ‘incredible’ reaction to coming out

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Soccer player Josh Cavallo says it’s nice to be recognized as an inspiration to other athletes around the world who are considering coming out as gay.

But despite the barriers that remain for Cavallo and other players in his position, the Adelaide United man says he’s delighted with the backlash his October 2021 announcement that he’s gay has generated.

“Honestly, it’s been amazing to see how the world reacted and basically gave me a big hug,” he said. “I didn’t realize the impact my story would have on millions and millions of people around the world.

“It seems like a long time ago, it seems like five years ago to me because now I live my days so fully. It has been absolutely amazing. I am very happy and proud of myself that I can better help these people and evolve the game.”

Cavallo says he received a staggering 700,000 messages in the first 30 minutes of his announcement, and while he understandably couldn’t respond to all of them, he says there were a few that naturally stood out.

“Obviously the messages from football stars, your icons like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, [Antoine] Griezmann and [Jesse] Lingard,” he said. “When I was younger, I would wake up to see them play early in the morning, so it’s nice to see these straight athletes come up and say, ‘Hey, Josh, that’s cool.'”

‘I can be the role model I didn’t have’

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But while interactions with global superstars have been well received, Cavallo says the real benefits of coming out have been the way he’s been able to help regular members of society.

“I can be that role model that I didn’t have,” Cavallo said. “Yeah, I had Justin Fashanu. Obviously that ended in a sad story. But I want those kids, that little Josh who’s watching, to say, ‘Look at Josh Cavallo, he’s gay and he’s comfortable in his own skin.’ That’s the message I want to get across.”

Cavallo says any abuse he received, on social media and from a small number of Melbourne Victory supporters in January, was unavoidable, and that he is working with developers in Australia on software that will allow social media users social block discriminatory messages so that they are not seen. .

Cavallo adds that “for every bad message, I get 10,000 good ones”, and seems to be enjoying his role as a positive influence for the likes of Jake Daniels, the teenage striker from Blackpool who came out as gay earlier this year.

“It’s nice to get recognition like that, but that’s just on the surface,” he said. “Thousands and thousands of athletes around the world are in contact with me and I am helping them on their own journeys. There will be more soon, don’t worry.”

“It’s really nice to see that these people have someone to turn to now, because that’s something I struggled with growing up. With football, there was no one I could turn to, and I want to be that to someone.”

“It could be someone in rugby, it could be someone in tennis, but it’s really nice to see people get inspired by my story. I may not know them personally, but I can help them.”

Cavallo on his dream of PL

Josh Cavallo (left) says he wants to 'show everyone is welcome in football'

While he says he is “honoured” to be seen as a role model off the pitch, Cavallo remains a professional with goals to accomplish on the pitch, one of which is earning a place in the Premier League.

After helping Melbourne to the A-League semi-finals last season, the 22-year-old said: “I’m really excited to see what the future holds and I hope I get the opportunity to come and play in Europe.” I will keep pushing for that and work as hard as I can to get here.

“My dream is to play in the Premier League, and I want to consider playing for a Championship team or a League One team to further evolve my game.

“I feel like I’m at that point in my life where I’m ready for that change, I’m ready to take that step forward in my football career.

“I’m very happy with the way everything is going. Off the field, I’m honored to be seen like this, I’m honored to be seen as a role model and be an inspiration to people. But on the field, I want to continue to be known as Josh Cavallo the footballer.

“I got to where I am now because I am a footballer, not a gay footballer. I still have a lot of work to do: I am still 22 years old, I am still at the beginning of my career, I have a lot of years left. But I am very excited for the future. and I’m ready to put my head down and work hard on the football field.”

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