Australian soccer star Josh Cavallo stepped out on Wednesday, becoming the world’s only openly gay top professional soccer player.
Cavallo, an Adelaide United midfielder, came out in a video posted to his club’s social media accounts.
“Growing up I always felt the need to hide, you know, because I was ashamed,” Cavallo said. “Ashamed that I could never do what I loved and be gay.”
“All I want is to play football and be treated as an equal,” he continued. “I’m tired of trying to be your best and living this double life. It’s exhausting. It’s something I don’t want anyone to experience.”
Aside from Cavallo, there are only several openly gay male athletes currently competing in major sports leagues around the world.
In June, Las Vegas Raiders player Carl Nassib announced he was gay, making him the first active NFL player to be openly gay. Nashville Predators player Luke Prokop became the first openly gay NHL player this month, after coming out in July.
Former Leeds United player Robbie Rogers, an American, became gay in 2013 when he announced his retirement. Soon after, Rogers continued to play for the LA Galaxy, becoming the first openly gay male athlete to compete in one of America’s top professional sports leagues.
Cavallo has revealed that he’s already been out privately with his family, friends and teammates, and that he believes they’ll start treating him differently. Instead, he said the response has been “unbelievable”.
Speaking to reporters outside the club’s stadium on Wednesday, Adelaide United head coach Carl Veart said he “couldn’t be prouder” of Cavallo.
“We want our players to be themselves, to speak out to be the best person they can be,” said Veart. “Not just on the pitch but also off the pitch.”
Cavallo wrote in a post on twitter that he knows there are other LGBTQ players “living in silence”.
“I hope that by sharing who I am I can show others who identify as LGBTQ + that they are welcome in the football community,” he wrote. and let other players in my situation feel that they are not alone.
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