For footballer Josh Cavallo, making the Qatar World Cup a scary prospect
Adelaide footballer Josh Cavallo has always been known for his athletic prowess and skills on the pitch, but in recent weeks the star athlete has become somewhat of a face for the future of the sport – focused on l ‘Inclusion and acceptance – after becoming the only top openly gay- flying male footballer. Since the announcement via social media, many footballers and fans have been quick to praise Cavallo for his courage and bravery, portraying him as a historic moment for the sport and what will hopefully be the end of the toxic masculinity that often permeates men’s professional sport. . So it is sad news that Cavallo has expressed his fear of competing in the Qatar World Cup due to the harsh ban on homosexuality and legal penalties ranging from flogging to long prison terms and even l ‘execution.
For years, Cavallo had tried to hide his gender identity from everyone he knew. âI didn’t just hide it from my teammates, I hid it from my family. I hid it from my friends, I hid it from everyone I hang out with, so it was only when I was alone that I could really relax, not worry and not stress â , did he declare. But while women’s football has seen a significant increase in LGBTQI + representation, with more than 40 lesbian or bisexual players participating in the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France, only a handful of male players have come out.
In a recent interview with the Guardian for the publication’s Today in Focus podcast, the star player has revealed that he will fear for his safety if invited to compete in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. “I read something like [they] give the death penalty to homosexuals in Qatar, so that’s something that scares me very much [of] and I wouldn’t really want to go to Qatar for that, âhe said.
âAnd that saddens me. At the end of the day, the World Cup is in Qatar and one of the greatest achievements as a professional footballer is playing for your country, and knowing that it is in a country that does not support gay people and us. endangers our own life, it scares me and makes me reevaluate – is my life more important than doing something really good in my career? “
Under several Qatari laws, homosexual acts are prohibited and the sentences in force range from one year in prison to ten years. According to a 2019 guide for LGBTQI + travelers, Qatar has been ranked as the second most dangerous place to travel for queer people because Muslims in the country may be subject to Sharia law which prohibits all sexual activity outside of marriage. These penalties can even include the death penalty, with same-sex acts often resulting in execution, despite several human rights reports suggesting there is no evidence that gay men were executed for the offense.
Cavallo’s comments come after increasing pressure on Fifa to award World Cups to countries like Qatar and Russia, where homophobia has been called a “state-sponsored” project. As critics have expressed, these choices don’t inspire much of the inclusiveness and acceptance that is at the heart of football.
For Cavallo however, he continues to be a leader in the game and admits that since his release several other professional footballers who are still in the closet have reached out, asking for his advice. “There are people who have contacted me confidentially and said, ‘I’m fighting the same Josh,’ and they’re professional footballers too. And look, that’s something you don’t. can’t rush. [I say] you want to be yourself, and at the end of the day i was not happy and now look at me i am honestly on top of the world, âhe said.
âThey like the sound of that and they say, ‘Josh, I’ve never experienced this before and I want to do it,’ and I say, ‘It’s in your hands, it’s your trip and there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. ‘ I didn’t think it was, but there certainly are.