Metro Weekly

Josh Cavallo Expresses Concerns about World Cup in Qatar

Openly gay player discusses LGBTQ issues within the international soccer community ahead of 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Josh Cavallo – Photo: Instagram.

Josh Cavallo, a soccer player for Adelaide United who came out as gay about a year ago, recently expressed concerns over the anti-LGBTQ laws in Qatar, which is scheduled to host the upcoming World Cup next month. 

Despite receiving a massive amount of support at the time of his coming out, Cavallo, in an interview with CNN, noted that there is still a lot of work to be done on LGBTQ acceptance and support within the international football community. Currently, Cavallo’s focus is centered on the World Cup, the international soccer tournament, which is being hosted by Qatar, a small country in the Middle East that still criminalizes same-sex intercourse.

While organizers of the event have stated Qatar “welcomes” Cavallo into the country and that “nobody feels threatened here, nobody feels unsafe,” Cavallo is not so much concerned for his own well-being as he is for other LGBTQ people in Qatar.

Cavallo told CNN that LGBTQ people in Qatar have reached out to him, pleading for help and fearing that they’ll get the death penalty from the government if they openly express their sexuality. He criticized the international soccer community over the decision to have Qatar host the tournament, saying that for his soccer team and others to be “heading to a country that’s criminalizing people like myself … It’s quite concerning.”

Making matters worse is that former English soccer star David Beckham has become a “high profile ambassador” for the Qatar World Cup. Cavallo has said he was disappointed to learn of Beckham’s role as an ambassador, saying he believes the international sports celebrity should be using his platform to support LGBTQ people, not those who criminalize their existence.

Speaking about LGBTQ tolerance within the larger soccer community, Cavallo recounted the story of the first openly gay footballer Justin Fashanu. Fashanu came out as gay in 1990 while playing for an English football team but took his own life just 8 years later due to the harassment he faced.

While the community has certainly come a long way since that incident, there are clearly some lingering tolerance issues, as evidenced by a situation involving former Spanish footballers, Iker Casillas and Carles Puyol. Earlier this month, the two players joked about coming out as gay, causing them to receive criticism from both the LGBTQ community and Cavallo.

“Joking and making fun out of coming out in football is disappointing. It’s a difficult journey that any LGBTQ+ ppl have to go through,” Cavallo wrote in a tweet at the time. “To see my role models and legends of the game make fun out of coming out and my community is beyond disrespectful.”

Cavallo told CNN that the Casillas and Puyol situation, along with the controversy over Beckham’s role as an ambassador for the World Cup, shows that having LGBTQ allies in the community is more necessary now than ever.

“If someone like David Beckham with his platform does get around us and becomes an ally that we are wanting him to be, it [would be] really helpful,” Cavallo said. “If he could take that next step and show what he means to the LGBTQ community, that would be fantastic.”

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