The world of football had a well-needed uplifting boost on Wednesday morning, with Adelaide United footballer Josh Cavallo's emotional video on Twitter announcing that he is gay.
Cavallo became the only male top-flight footballer worldwide currently known to be gay, and the reaction to the announcement has been overwhelmingly positive.
Josh Cavallo coming out is a seminal moment for LGBTQ+ in sport
The issue of LGBTQ+ squad members at elite clubs has largely been ignored for years - aside from incidents of homophobic and ill-intended chanting from fans, and historic hostility towards anyone brave enough to reveal their sexual identity.
Not a single active male player has come out as gay in modern times - until Wednesday, when Australian footballer Josh Cavallo posted an emotional video to his Twitter account revealing that he is gay.
— Josh Cavallo (@JoshuaCavallo) October 27, 2021
It cannot be overstated how huge a moment this is for LGBTQ+ representation in sport.
There have been isolated incidents of footballers coming out after their careers have ended, such as former West Ham and Aston Villa defender Thomas Hitzlsperger. As well as this, several figures in the women's game have been able to come out with the support of their teammates, like US World Cup winner Megan Rapinoe.
But the atmosphere at the top level in men's football has simply not accommodated such openness for decades now. The hostility with which Justin Fashanu's coming out was received by the press in 1990 surely set the process of acceptance back several years.
By contrast, the response from major sporting figures to Cavallo's video has been nothing but heartwarming, and shows that football is barrelling towards being a more inclusive area for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Huge respect to Josh for doing this. It’s courageous and shares an important message that everyone deserves to be themselves no matter what. https://t.co/f3KEr5Pjxp
— Jordan Henderson (@JHenderson) October 27, 2021
It’s absurd that coming out is a brave thing to do in football. It is though, and I’m full of admiration for Josh for treading a path hopefully many others will follow. I’m sure the overwhelming majority of football lovers will support him and erase the fear others may have. https://t.co/iDvg67qN7s
— Gary Lineker 💙 (@GaryLineker) October 27, 2021
This must have taken much courage, Josh. You have my full support!! 💪🏾 https://t.co/sJDTd2JFmD
— Raphaël Varane (@raphaelvarane) October 27, 2021
Hey @JoshuaCavallo, I don’t have the pleasure to know you personally but I want to thank you for this step that you take. The world of football is far behind and you are helping us move forward. https://t.co/pe8xdJl15i
— Gerard Piqué (@3gerardpique) October 27, 2021
— Jesse Lingard (@JesseLingard) October 27, 2021
👏 well done Josh the football world is behind you!!! https://t.co/GjLm6BT8TA
— Fizzer18 (@Fizzer181) October 27, 2021
— Antoine Griezmann (@AntoGriezmann) October 27, 2021
— Pau Gasol (@paugasol) October 27, 2021
What an inspiring young man!
Thank you for your courage, everyone has the right to be themselves.
Just stay yourself and enjoy the life you choose to live ❤️ https://t.co/b1EO3X7sdt
— Robin van Persie (@Persie_Official) October 27, 2021
The support has spread far and wide - from the likes of Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, to broadcaster and England legend Gary Lineker, all the way to the world of basketball and the star power of Pau Gasol.
It's clear that the bravery of Cavallo is not only appreciated, but welcomed and encouraged by the footballing community.
Cavallo himself posted a response to the widespread support for his coming out, saying that he hoped it would pave the way for the next generation of LGBTQ+ footballers to feel more comfortable in their identity.
🗣️ "I've been been waiting for this moment for a very long time in my life."
Josh Cavallo says he is overwhelmed by the positive response he has received after coming out as gay and becoming the only top division footballer in the world to do so 🌈
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) October 27, 2021
The times are changing - and for the better. Hopefully, Josh Cavallo's inspiring bravery is only the beginning of a new era of acceptance in football, and that young footballers struggling with their sexual identity in a sporting world that has been so cold towards the community for so long may finally feel comfortable in their own identity - and in sharing it with the world.