Top Aussie footballer who made history when he came out as gay slams Manly players’ ‘dangerous’ pride jersey boycott and reveals how it will devastate closeted NRL starsGay Adelaide United player Josh Cavallo is ‘disappointed’ by the Manly sagaHe said the boycott of seven players was ‘dangerous’ for closeted NRL stars Cavallo is the only openly gay male in top-flight Australian sportThe footballer said the boycott is proof ‘homophobia exists’ in Aussie sport
Openly gay Adelaide United football Josh Cavallo has expressed his anguish over the Manly pride jersey saga, saying the decision of seven players to boycott the jumper will ‘devastate’ any closeted teammates or fellow NRL players.
Cavallo made history in October last year when he came out as gay in an emotional video posted on social media, and is still the only openly gay male in top-flight Australian sport.
He slammed the seven Sea Eagles players who refused to wear the pride jersey based on religious and cultural grounds, saying it was a ‘dangerous message’ to send to their teammates who may be struggling with their sexuality ‘in silence’.
Openly gay A-League player Josh Cavallo has slammed the seven Manly players who decided to refuse to wear the club’s pride jumper
The Manly Sea Eagles will wear this pride jersey in their game against the Roosters at Brookvale Oval on Thursday night
‘We now know that these players would not welcome an LGBTQ teammate or fan. It actually shows us that having a gay or bisexual teammate bothers them,’ Cavallo told the Sydney Morning Herald.
He said the fiasco is ‘another example of how sports remain a highly visible reminder that homophobia exists’, and pointed out that just because an NRL player hasn’t come out, doesn’t mean there isn’t one.
‘Don’t assume we are all straight. The lack of ‘out’ rugby [league] players doesn’t mean that they’re not playing and competing alongside you,’ he said.
Most damningly, Cavallo said: ‘To not have this support from your teammates can be devastating to a closeted player’.
At the time the Adelaide United star made history by coming out, he said he was exhausted from ‘living this double life’, and could no longer stay in the proverbial closet.
Josh Cavallo models Adelaide United’s pride jersey
Manly prop Josh Aloiai is one of the seven Manly stars who will not be playing on Thursday night due to the pride jersey being worn
‘Growing up I always felt the need to hide myself because I was ashamed – ashamed I would never be able to do what I love and be gay,’ Cavallo said in the video.
Manly stars Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolutau Koula and Toafofoa Sipley have all stood down from Thursday’s match against the Roosters over the pride jersey.
Josh Cavallo has slammed the decision of seven Manly players to boycott the club’s pride jumper, saying it was ‘dangerous’ for closeted NRL players
That comes after reports emerged of an unnamed gay up-and-coming Sea Eagles player left shattered over their stance on the new strip.
Adelaide United played in a rainbow pride jersey against the Central Coast Mariners earlier this year, something Cavallo said at the time was a ‘fantastic opportunity to show that everyone is welcome’.
This was despite an unnamed teammate reportedly having similar religious-based concerns like the Manly Seven – but he wanted to support Cavallo and wore the jersey with the permission of a representative of his faith.
Josh Cavallo wears Adelaide United’s pride jersey prior to the club’s game against the Central Coast Mariners in February
Despite the controversy surrounding Manly’s pride jersey, ARL Commission Chairman Peter V’Landys believes the NRL could stage a Pride Round as early as next year.
‘We will certainly look into it (hosting a Pride Round),’ he said on Sky’s AM Agenda.
‘In sport, we are all one. Of course, the players have the freedom of choice, that is part of living in Australia.’
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