Football Australia to consider national bans for Cavallo abusers

Football Australia has not ruled out banning individuals found to have threatened or sent anti-gay slurs to Adelaide United footballer Josh Cavallo from organized football at a national level. 

Cavallo, who became the only openly gay top-flight male professional player currently playing in world football when he came out last October, took to his Instagram on Sunday to reveal that he had been the subject of anti-gay slurs from individuals in the stands and on social media following his side’s 1-1 away draw with Melbourne Victory the previous evening.

See Also: Adelaide United’s Josh Cavallo subjected to anti-gay slurs

“I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t see or hear the homophobic abuse at the game last night,” Cavallo wrote.

“There are no words to tell you how disappointed I was. As a society, this shows we still face these problems in 2022. This shouldn’t be acceptable and we need to do more to hold these people accountable.

“Hate never will win.”

The Sydney Morning Herald would subsequently report that the Reds’ utility had been subject to a steady stream of social media abuse – including death threats – since last October and that his club had spoken with police about investigating the threats to his safety. 

“The Australian Professional Leagues (APL) was shocked and saddened to hear reports of homophobic bullying at last night’s Melbourne Victory vs Adelaide United A-Leagues match, directed towards Josh Cavallo,” APL CEO Danny Townsend said on Sunday. 

See Also: Josh Cavallo: Coming out as gay has ‘taken me to a new level’

“Our players, staff and fans have the right to feel safe on and off the pitch. There is no place for bullying, harassment or abuse in Australian football and we have zero tolerance for this harmful behaviour. 

“We are working with both clubs to investigate the incident and will issue sanctions to any people found to be involved. We fully support Josh Cavallo and want to ensure he can focus on his football performance, rather than on vile abuse. We will continue to concentrate our efforts on creating safe and welcoming A-Leagues for all.”

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The latest developments come months on from Professional Footballers Australia and Football Australia contacting the eSafety Commissioner’s office and police following social media abuse directed towards Matildas’ players – including the sharing of intimate images of at least two players without their consent. 

A Football Australia spokesperson confirmed that the federation, in the wake of Cavallo’s post, had contacted both he and Adelaide United in order to better understand the specifics of the slurs and threats the 21-year-old had received and that a “please explain” letter has also been sent to Melbourne Victory to both gather further information about Saturday’s events and what further steps the current A-League Men leaders will be taking.

With the APL and Victory expected to seek to ban any individuals identified during their investigations from A-Leagues matches, the spokesperson also confirmed a Football Australia willingness to extend that ban to a national one if certain conduct is found to have occurred. 

Separately from the Cavallo investigation, Football Australia also committed to “look at ways to raise awareness and take a leadership position” on inclusion and diversity, with a particular focus on battling anti-LGBTQIA+ hatred. 

A PFA spokesperson also confirmed that the player’s union had been in contact with Cavallo to provide support. 

“Josh has shown his remarkable courage and those who sought to abuse him in the stadium and online have illustrated their cowardice,” PFA Co-Chief Executives Beau Busch and Kathryn Gill said on Sunday. 

 “There is no place in our game, our society, for those who seek to direct abhorrent abuse at others.

 “Josh will continue to have the full support of the PFA and his peers and we will work with the APL, and the authorities, to ensure that those who sought to subject Josh to vile abuse are dealt with and that as a game we live up to our zero-tolerance commitment.”

Cavallo and his Adelaide teammates are next set to take the field on Saturday evening when they host Melbourne City at Coopers Stadium. A win would be enough to move the Reds back into the A-League Men top six.

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You’re seeing this advert because this is an unpaid, self-published piece.

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Header Image Credit: Adelaide United

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