Nine months after coming out Josh Cavallo, the first openly gay player in men’s professional football has said that he has dreams to play at the World Cup but has questioned whether he would be safe in Qatar.

The Adelaide United player spoke to Sky Sports and opened up about reactions people have had towards the announcement of his sexuality. Though most have been positive, Cavallo has addressed concerns about attending the World Cup to play for his country with the knowledge that the host country is known for their heavy restriction to queer people and the strict anti-LGBTQ+ laws.

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“I’d definitely go to the World Cup. I want to show it’s okay for everyone,” Cavallo said. “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.”

In Qatar, homosexuality is illegal and carries punishments of up to three years in prison and a fine and the possibility of the death penalty for Muslims under sharia law (though there are no known instances of the death penalty being enforced in the past).

‘Dreamed of Playing For My Country at the World Cup but Do I Want My Life to be in Danger?’

Cavallo states that this issue “does concern me.” He muses on the possibility of representing Australia at the World Cup and though it would be an honour, “at the same time, the laws clash,” and could put him at risk.

“I want to do something really good in my career. I’ve always dreamed of playing for my country at the World Cup, but do I want my life to be in danger?”

After his announcement in October, the midfielder received 700,000 messages within the first 30 minutes, including some from football icons.

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Among them were AC Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann and Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard.

“When I was younger, I woke up to watch them play early in the morning, so it’s nice to see these straight athletes reaching out and saying, ‘Hey Josh, it’s OK’,” Cavallo said.

Cavallo has spoken about Qatar’s anti-LGBTQ+ stance and its penalties in the past. He told the Guardian’s Today in Focus podcast on Monday that Qatar’s policies forced him to re-evaluate whether his life was “more important than doing something really good in my career”.

Dream is to Play in the Premier League

His dream to play in the Premier League and evolve his game remains as he continues in his football career.

“I got to where I am now because I’m a footballer, not a gay footballer. I still have a lot of work to do – I’m still 22, I’m still early in my career, I’ve got lots of years left in me. But I’m really excited for the future and I’m ready to put my head down and work hard on the football field.”

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