Josh Cavallo Faces Death Threats and Criticises FIFA Over Saudi World Cup

Josh Cavallo Faces Death Threats and Criticises FIFA Over Saudi World Cup

Josh Cavallo has opened up about facing death threats and expressed concerns about his safety playing football in Saudi Arabia.

The Australian midfielder is the first out gay, active player in men’s professional football. Cavallo came out as gay in October 2021 and has been a leading advocate for LGBTQI+ rights and combating homophobia in sport.

During a recent interview with The Mirror, Cavallo spoke about his coming out journey, shedding light on the death threats he’s received for living authentically and voicing his opinions.

Josh Cavallo’s Push for Inclusivity in Football 

“Everyone tends to ask me ‘how can we grow football’,” explained Cavallo, advocating for inclusivity.  “In the A-League we created a Pride round and that’s something which changed the way that Australians look at football in Pride and it got a fantastic response.

“For me, it’s not just one day that we celebrate, it’s something we consistently think of. It affects people. Clubs should turn around and support LGBT+ people.”

Cavallo also urged soccer clubs and FIFA to recognise the challenges LGBTQI+ players face, even if they aren’t openly out, when playing in countries where their identity is criminalised. He highlighted concerns about FIFA hosting the World Cup in Saudi Arabia.

“I honestly wouldn’t feel safe,” he says of the Saudi World Cup.

“It’s so sad to say that but even in my football career, there’s certain countries I will not go to and play my club football or play with the national team in.”

LGBTQ+ Rights Concerns in Saudi Arabia

In Saudi Arabia, homosexuality is illegal, carrying the maximum punishment of death. Both men and women can be prosecuted under this law.

Transgender individuals also risk persecution for not conforming to the strict dress codes mandated by Sharia law, in addition to the possibility of being prosecuted under laws criminalising same-sex activity.

In 2022, Cavallo expressed his apprehension about participating in the World Cup hosted in Qatar, admitting that he would be “scared” due to concerns about LGBTQ+ rights and safety.

“I vow to stand up for the LGBTQ athletes and the fans at the World Cup in Qatar, who can’t live openly, authentically. Qatar, FIFA, the world is watching,” Cavallo said.

“I urge sport leaders to consider our rights, our safety while choosing host countries for World Cups and other competitions. We must do better.”

The 24-year-old has shared several comments he had received on Instagram, including death threats and assertions that gay people should not play football.

Cavallo’s Fight Against Homophobia Death Threats 

Last November, Cavallo posted about the ‘vile’ death threats he had been sent on Instagram while he had been absent from football due to injury.

“Being absent from football with a long term injury, the outside noise was present and unavoidable amongst this journey. Sadly countless and endless death threats aimed to my everyday life and sexuality due to my football absence.”

“I invest, and I invest a lot in preventing structures and education against homophobia. For my own generation to the next to not excuse this behaviour. These people need to be criminally punished too”, he wrote.

It will be a great step to protect players safety onto the 2026 World Cup.

“Obviously online I can’t control what people are going to say and do, but this is me, this is who I am,” Cavallo told The Mirror. 

“Unfortunately because I’m in the public eye and I’m the first representation of an openly gay footballer, I am a bit of a target.

“But I know the impact it’s having, how happy it’s making people, how it’s helping people come out of their shell and come out of their bubble that they’ve been stuck in their whole lives.”

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