Australian professional footballer Josh Cavallo has publicly stated that he is gay, adding that he wants to show that “everyone is welcome in football”.
Adelaide United midfielder Cavallo, who has represented Australia at under-20 level, becomes the only known top male footballer to be absent.
Cavallo broke the news ahead of the new A-League season in a lengthy social media post.
The 21-year-old said it was “amazing to know that there are no gay professional footballers who actively play” and that he wanted to show “other people who identify as LGBTQ + that they are welcome to the football community “.
Cavallo was congratulated by players of Australia’s National Women’s Team, Chelsea’s Sam Kerr tweeted “Good for you” and Arsenal’s Caitlin Foord adding: “Respect, the strength to speak out and make who you own are.”
In his post, Cavallo said: “As a locked-in gay footballer, I had to learn to hide my feelings in order to fit into the mold of a professional footballer.
“Growing up being gay and playing football were just two worlds that had never crossed before.
“In football you only have a small window to achieve greatness, and going out publicly can have a negative impact on a career.
“As a gay footballer, I know there are other players who live in silence.
“I want to help change that, to show that everyone is welcome in football and deserves the right to be themselves authentic.”
Cavallo was greeted with a wave of love and affection after his announcement.
Adelaide said in a statement: “Today Josh Cavallo is telling the world his truth and showing great courage.
“Adelaide United, not only as a football club, but as an embodiment of an inclusive community, supports a remarkable and courageous person.
“We stand with Josh to be proud to be true to himself and will continue to love and support him as part of our beautifully diverse family.”
The A-League praised Cavallo and Adelaide “for creating a safe and inclusive space”, adding that “football is a game for everyone – if you like the game, you are welcome here”.
Football Australia Managing Director James Johnson said: “Football Australia would like to salute Josh’s bravery in becoming the only openly gay player in the A-League Men competition.
“His courage to be open with himself and share this part with others is inspiring and hopefully will inspire more footballers to do the same in the future.”
Former Australia international Craig Foster said: “No one should have to hide who they are and the ball doesn’t care about color, race, religion, gender, sexuality. Just how you play. This should be life… all the best this season.