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Horrific death threats against gay footballer Josh Cavallo ‘to be investigated by police’

SJ Zhang January 10, 2022
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Adelaide United's Josh Cavallo follows the play during the Australian A-League football match between Perth Glory and Adelaide United in Perth on November 20, 2021. (Photo by TREVOR COLLENS/AFP via Getty Images)

Josh Cavallo’s team, Adelaide United, has asked police to investigate death threats made against the footballer.

Since coming out as gay last October, Josh Cavallo has been subject to homophobic abuse on the pitch and on social media.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, his team have “engaged” police following a match on Saturday (8 January), played against Melbourne Victory, which saw Cavallo harassed by a group of spectators with slurs and boos from the AAMI Park stands.

South Australia Police have reportedly been asked to investigate the corresponding online abuse directed at Cavallo through social media, which has included death threats and other disturbing messages.

Saturday’s incident is also being investigated by the Australian Professional Leagues, who are working together with the operators of AAMI Park to identify those responsible for the hate coming from the stand using CCTV and broadcast footage.

The APL has promised to ban the perpetrators from attending future matches once they have been identified.

Josh Cavallo calls for homophobes to be held accountable

For Nathan Kosmina, CEO of Adelaide United, the abuse levelled at Josh Cavallo on Saturday “just went beyond what was acceptable”.

“It wasn’t an individual, it was more of a collective voice coming out of that northern stand, and he said basically: ‘Enough’s enough, I’m calling this out,’ and we’re right behind Josh,” he said, according to the Herald.

Kosmina’s message for homophobes was clear: “We don’t want you in our game. It’s as simple as that.”

“I don’t want my young boys at a game where abuse is being hurled from the stands. I don’t think any families do.”

Cavallo took to Instagram to voice his feelings about the situation.

“There are no words to tell you how disappointed I was,” he wrote, adding, “This shouldn’t be acceptable and we need to do more to hold these people accountable.”

Previously, Cavallo has criticised online platforms for failing to do more to deal with online abuse, writing: “It’s a sad reality that your platforms are not doing enough to stop these messages.”

“I don’t want any child or adult to have to receive the hateful and hurtful messages that I’ve received.”

Cavallo has also expressed his gratitude for support from his fanbase, writing on Instagram: “Thank you to all the positive messages, love and support, seeing that far outweighs the negativity.”

The Adelaide United CEO also praised Cavallo for being a “resilient young man”, who who has managed the pressure of being “a global voice of the LGBTI+ community”.

“He’s arguably the highest profile men’s player in the league now, in terms of the global reach of his name and brand,” Kosmina said.

“With that, and our sport being global, means that he gets comments from all over the world – majority positive, but there’s an element that is negative. And that is ongoing.”

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Joshua Cavallo of Adelaide United takes to the field during an A-League Men’s exhibition match between Brisbane Roar and Adelaide United. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

Adelaide United are also planning to organise a Pride game during February to encourage greater inclusion in professional football.

While progress towards greater LGBT+ acceptance is being made in football, there is still a long way to go.

A 2016 survey by Stonewall Scotland found that 82 per cent of respondents had witnessed homophobic or transphobic abuse at a football event.

However, efforts such as Stonewall’s annual Rainbow Laces campaign and the Football v Homophobia initiative are seeking to create a more inclusive atmosphere.

More: Australia, football, Homophobia, Josh Cavallo

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