The international football community has rallied around Australian pro Josh Cavallo after he came out as gay.
Top players, clubs and governing bodies all around the world posted emphatic messages of support for Cavallo, who is now the only current, active men’s top-flight gay footballer.
From England’s Marcus Rashford to Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimović and Spain’s Gerard Piqué, players came together to thank the 21-year-old for his bravery.
“I know this took a lot of courage, Josh,” tweeted Manchester United forward Rashford, sharing Cavallo’s coming out video.
“Know this entire football community stands with you. Enjoy this freedom now, enjoy your peace. So much respect for you brother.”
AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimonviç called Cavallo a “champion“. “Football is for everybody,” he said, “big respect.”
Rio Ferdinand says Josh Cavallo is ‘bravery personified’
Piqué, who plays as a centre-back for La Liga club Barcelona, said as much as he hasn’t yet met Cavallo, “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.”
Rio Ferdinand, the player-turned-pundit considered one of England’s greatest ever players, added that Cavello is “strength and bravery personified“.
The United States Men’s National Team tweeted: “Proud of you, [Josh],” in a message amplified by countless other football stars and clubs.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) October 27, 2021
Thank you @JoshuaCavallo for your strength and bravery…
🏳️🌈 You are an inspiration to millions
🏳️⚧️ Everyone deserves the right to be themselves
The world of football is a better place today, because of you ❤️ https://t.co/bdUtBpzmHv
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) October 27, 2021
— Antoine Griezmann (@AntoGriezmann) October 27, 2021
Huge respect to Josh for doing this. It’s courageous and shares an important message that everyone deserves to be themselves no matter what. https://t.co/f3KEr5Pjxp
— Jordan Henderson (@JHenderson) October 27, 2021
Josh, we admire your courage and strength. We hope you continue to inspire more people to live their truth. https://t.co/AXeJQSxzbV
— FC Bayern München (@FCBayern) October 27, 2021
— Jesse Lingard (@JesseLingard) October 27, 2021
It’s absurd that coming out is a brave thing to do in football. It is though, and I’m full of admiration for Josh for treading a path hopefully many others will follow. I’m sure the overwhelming majority of football lovers will support him and erase the fear others may have. https://t.co/iDvg67qN7s
— Gary Lineker 💙 (@GaryLineker) October 27, 2021
“I want to inspire and show people that it’s okay to be yourself and play football. It’s okay to be gay and to play football.”
— FIFPRO (@FIFPRO) October 27, 2021
Born in Bentleigh East, a sleepy suburb in Melbourne, Victoria, Cavallo was a child prodigy who quickly soared in the city’s youth football clubs before joining the A-League, Australia’s top league.
He went on to join Adelaide United as a central midfielder, even scoring the club’s A-League Rising Star award.
But as Cavallo shone brightly as a football star, he was forced to lived a “double life”, he said in a powerful social media statement Wednesday morning (27 October).
“I’m ready to speak about something personal that I’m finally comfortable to talk about in my life,” he said.
“I am proudly to publicly announce that I am gay.
“Growing up, I always felt the need to hide myself because I was ashamed,” he added. “Ashamed I would never be able to do what I loved and be gay.
“Hiding who I truly am, to pursue a dream I always wished for as a kid, to play football and be treated equally never felt like a reality.”
After coming out, Cavallo can’t stop smiling, he told BBC Breakfast Thursday morning.
“I’ve never smiled this much in my life,” Cavallo said. “
“I’ve had the best rest sleep last night knowing that I could finally be myself and not live a life of lies to the people I care about the most.”