Australian footballer Josh Cavallo has spoken out about his strong concerns over the selection of host countries with anti-LGBTQ+ laws for the World Cup, highlighting the dangers he faces as an openly gay player, especially in countries like Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality is punishable by death.

Speaking with the Daily Mirror, 24-year-old Cavallo discussed the risks of playing in nations where his identity could lead to severe repercussions, saying, “I honestly wouldn’t feel safe.”

Cavallo, who plays for Adelaide United, has been an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ+ rights within the sports community and stressed that football clubs and governing bodies should stand against hosting major tournaments in countries where LGBTQ+ rights are not respected.


“Clubs should turn around and support LGBT+ people,” he argued, emphasising the personal conflicts he faces between his career aspirations and his safety.

The athlete has previously criticised the decision to host the World Cup in Qatar, where being gay is also illegal, and pointed out the contradiction of pursuing a career in such environments: “It comes to a point where it’s your livelihood over your job, which, for me, is incredibly sad because this is what I do, I wake up, and I breathe football.”

Cavallo’s call for change is clear: “There needs to be a point where we say countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar can’t [host] such high-calibre tournaments.” Given the circumstances, he views this stance as common sense.

Despite facing death threats and homophobic abuse since coming out in 2021, Cavallo finds solace in the positive impact he has on other young LGBTQ+ individuals. His engagement to electrician Leighton Morrell and the support from his team, Adelaide United, exemplify the progress and acceptance that can be fostered within sports.

Cavallo also celebrated the growing visibility and normalisation of LGBTQ+ symbols in Australian football, such as the Pride armband and rainbows in the stands. “It’s been normalised hugely in Australia,” he reflected. “If you’d told me that three years ago, there’s no way I would have thought my impact could have been involved in changing that.”

With a steadfast resolve, Cavallo concluded, “I’m fighting and continuing, and I’ll never give up,” underscoring his commitment to advocating for LGBTQ+ rights in football and beyond.