Out Footballer Josh Cavallo 'Scared' to Play in Qatar

Thursday November 11, 2021
Originally published on November 8, 2021

"The world's only openly gay top-flight men's footballer says he would be 'scared' to play at the†World Cup†tournament in Qatar next year," reports The Guardian, "because of the emirate's harsh ban on homosexuality and legal penalties ranging from flogging to lengthy prison terms and execution."

21-year-old Jose Cavallo, whose coming out last month made him the first out active player in the sport of football, explained to the Guardian how he anguished for six years, hiding his sexuality.

"I didn't just hide it from my teammates, I hid it from my family," he said. "I hid it from my friends, I hid it from everyone I hang around, so it was only when I was by myself that I could genuinely relax and not worry and not stress."

An ongoing football controversy is the decisions by FIFA (the sport's governing body) to allow the World Cup to be played in countries who advocate homophobia, such as Russia and Qatar, where the upcoming games are to be played next year.

He†told the Guardian's daily news podcast that he would be afraid for his safety if asked to participate in the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

"I read something along the lines of that [they] give the death penalty for gay people in Qatar, so it's something I'm very scared [of] and wouldn't really want to go to Qatar for that," he said.

"And 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 to play for your country, and to know that this is in a country that doesn't support gay people and puts us at risk of our own life, that does scare me and makes me re-evaluate — is my life more important than doing something really good in my career?"

"Homosexual acts are banned†under several Qatari laws†with penalties ranging from at least a year to a decade in prison," the Guardian adds. . Of 150 countries ranked, Qatar placed 143.

Cavallo added that he has been contacted by other professional football players still in the closet for advice. "There are people who have reached out to me in confidentiality and said: 'I'm struggling with the same thing, Josh,' and they're professional footballers, too. And, look, it's something you can't rush. [I say] you want to be yourself, and at the end of the day I wasn't happy, and now look at me, I'm honestly on top of the world.

"They like the sound of that and they say: 'Josh, I haven't experienced that before, and I want to,' and I say: 'It's in your hands, it's your journey, and there's a light at the end of the tunnel.' I didn't think there was, but there definitely is."