Josh Cavallo, the famously out athlete, has some apprehension about playing in Qatar.
The 22-year-old left back and central midfielder for Adelaide United would love to play the Qatar Cup one day, but there’s a major conflict of interest. Qatar, a country in Asia, still criminalizes homosexuality. If you’re gay there, you can be subjected to three years in prison or even the death penalty.
Cavallo, a member of Australia’s A League (think the MLS in America), has received several messages from fans in Qatar, especially since coming out publicly in October 2021. At the time, he was the only professional soccer player in Australia.
He tells a reporter at CNN:
I get a lot of messages via social media of people in countries like Qatar and they say: ‘Josh, please help me. I want to come out. I want to be myself, but they’re going to criminalize me. I’m going to get the death penalty.’ When you hear stuff like that, it breaks your heart because they’re the things that everyday people go through in these countries.
He also addressed his concerns and the plight of the LGBT community in Qatar in an interview with Sky Sports.
An international athletics celebrity speaking so harshly about his country ruffled the feathers of Qatar Cup’s Chief Executive, Nasser Al Khater.
Khater reportedly responded with:
On the contrary, we welcome [Josh Cavello] here in the state of Qatar. We welcome him to come and see, even prior to the World Cup. Nobody feels threatened here, nobody feels unsafe.
Cavello hit back with a traditionally witty comment:
I know personally, if I go there, I will be protected because I’m in the public eye. But it’s not me that I’m worried about. It’s those ones that are messaging me. It’s those people that aren’t in the public eye that are scared to even be themselves and walk the streets. To see that we’re heading to a country that’s criminalizing people like myself. It’s quite concerning.
It’s nice to see that Josh is using his platform to bring attention to an important issue.
Currently, Adelaide United is slated to face Sydney FC on October 23 and Perth Glory on October 30. Doesn’t look like the Qatar Cup is on the line up as of this writing.