Fine Levied for Anti-LGBTQ+ Slurs Hurled at Out Soccer Star Josh Cavallo

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday January 27, 2022

Josh Cavallo
Josh Cavallo  (Source:Josh Cavallo/Instagram)

Australian soccer team Melbourne Victory have been $5,000 AUD for homophobic slurs hurled from the stands at Josh Cavallo, who plays with Adelaide United, ESPN reported.

Cavallo, ESPN noted, is "the only openly gay top-flight male professional player playing in world football." Cavallo came out last October, and though he has said since then that he was unhappy in the closet and has expressed joy at having embraced authenticity, ESPN reported that he has "been subject to a steady stream of social media abuse — including death threats" since then.

Despite the sanction, Melbourne Victory reiterated its condemnation of homophobic abuse from its fans.

"Melbourne Victory has received notice of the reprimand delivered by Football Australia and maintains a strong stance on condemning the homophobic abuse that occurred on January 8," a spokesperson for the team told ESPN.

The spokesperson added that the investigation into the incident by Melbourne Victory, as well as " the A-Leagues, Football Australia and Stadium Management" was "ongoing."

Cavallo "had been brought on as a 54th-minute substitute before being taken to the sidelines and substituted under concussion protocols during injury time" during the match on Jan. 8, ESPN said.

Cavallo took to social media the next day to decry the slurs from the stands. "I'm not going to pretend that I didn't see or hear the homophobic abuse at the game last night," the 22-year-old player posted. "There are no words to tell you how disappointed I was. As a society this shows we still face these problems in 2022."

The athlete went on to chide social media companies, writing, "I don't want any child or adult to have to receive the hateful and hurtful messages that I've received" on such services. "It's a sad reality that your platforms are not doing enough to stop these messages."

Cavallo encouraged LGBTQ+ youth to stand strong against hate, telling them that "Football is a game for everyone" and exhorting them to "hold your heads up high and keep chasing your dreams," reports conveyed.

The homophobic abuse hurled at Cavallo was roundly condemned. The Daily Mail reported that Adelaide United declared itself "proud to be an inclusive and diverse football club."

Additionally, "Influential fan voices at Victory such as podcast For Vucks Sake, as well as large portions of their fan base, have been quick to condemn the slurs," ESPN noted.

But not everyone has taken a stand against hate. The ESPN article pointed out that "the club's unaffiliated active support group Original Style Melbourne has come under the spotlight for their continued refusal to actively condemn anti-gay abuse under the guise that such an act would violate their stance that the group 'is not the place to push any political or social opinions.'"

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.