FA support for Cavallo after calling out homophobic abuse during game

Football Australia chief James Johnson has applauded Josh Cavallo’s courage and issued Melbourne Victory with a show cause notice after the Adelaide United defender said he was the target of homophobic abuse during an A-League Men game.

FA is working with the Australian Professional Leagues and Victory to identify the fans involved in the incident during last Saturday’s match at AAMI Park, which could lead to bans from games throughout Australia.

Josh Cavallo. Credit:Getty

Cavallo, 22, became the first active top-flight male professional footballer in the world to come out as gay in October. Victory have until 5pm on Tuesday to respond to the FA notice.

“I want to reiterate that this conduct is unwelcome in football,” Johnson said. “Everyone should be able to enjoy participating in our sport regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, ability or disability, cultural or religious background.

“I want to applaud Josh for his courage in calling out this behaviour. I also welcome the strong responses from Melbourne Victory, Adelaide United, the Australian Professional Leagues and the broader football community. Football Australia is committed to ensuring we provide an inclusive environment for all involved, whether on or off the field.”

Both clubs condemned the events from Saturday’s match, which ended in a 1-1 draw. Cavallo played 36 minutes as a substitute but came off during injury time due to a suspected concussion.

South Australia Police are also investigating the incident.

An SA Police spokesperson said: “In relation to the abuse during the game, SA Police have no jurisdiction on this incident as the match was played in Melbourne. However, in relation to ongoing alleged abuse and threats that the player has received, Western District Detectives have commenced an investigation and are working with the club and player involved.”

Following the alleged abuse, Cavallo wrote on Instagram that he was disappointed but would continue to hold his head high.

“I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t see or hear the homophobic abuse at the game last night. There are no words to tell you how disappointed I was,” Cavallo wrote.

“As a society this it shows we still face these problems in 2022. This shouldn’t be acceptable and we need to do more to hold this people accountable. Hate never will win. I will never apologise for living my truth and most recently who I am outside of football.

“To all the young people who have received homophobic abuse, hold your heads up high and keep chasing your dreams. Know that there is no place in the game for this. Football is a game for everyone no matter of who you are, what colour your skin is or where you come from.”

Melbourne Victory said in a statement it strongly condemned the behaviour.

“The club is committed to celebrating diversity in football,” the statement read. “Melbourne Victory sees football as a platform to unite fans no matter what background. Spectators found to have breached these standards will be banned from future matches.”

Beau Busch and Kate Gill, the joint chief executives of Professional Footballers Australia, said Cavallo’s abusers had “illustrated their cowardice”.

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

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