Josh Cavallo’s club Adelaide United have asked South Australia Police to investigate vile death threats sent to the gay soccer player online.
At the weekend, Cavallo spoke out after spectators hurled homophobic abuse towards him during a match in Melbourne on Saturday night.
The 22-year-old’s club have also engaged police to probe “disturbing and specific death threats” against the player online, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Adelaide United boss Nathan Kosmina explained since Cavallo came out as gay last October, he’s dealt with a significant amount of online abuse.
Cavallo is the first openly gay active top-flight pro soccer player.
Kosmina said he was courageous and “a real resilient young man” and was in “a good headspace” after copping the vile sledges during the match.
“He’s arguably the highest profile men’s player in the league now, in terms of the global reach of his name and brand,” he said.
“With that, and our sport being global, means he gets comments from all over the world.
“The majority are positive, but there’s an element that is negative, and that’s ongoing.
“We support him through it day to day.”
Officials comb footage for spectators who abused Josh Cavallo
At the match at Melbourne’s AAMI Park, a collective of spectators were chanting death threats and yelling homophobic slurs at Cavallo from the stands, the Herald reported.
Kosmina said they abused Cavallo as he walked past the stands after he was substituted out of the game.
“It wasn’t an individual. It was more of a collective voice coming out of the northern stand,” he recalled.
“[Josh] said, basically, ‘Enough’s enough. I’m calling this out’. And we say, ‘We’re right behind you, Josh.’”
Officials are now examining CCTV and broadcast footage in a bid to find those responsible for abusing Josh Cavallo.
“It’s difficult [but] there’s more cameras at our games than there ever have been before,” Kosmina said.
“The security infrastructure at AAMI Park is probably the best in the country.”
League officials plan to sanction any individual identified.
Kosmina said he’d spoken to opposing team Melbourne Victory, who strongly condemned the abusive spectator’s behaviour.
“They’ve made clear the full force of their investigative powers will go into identifying individuals or groups of individuals that may be involved,” he said.
He added, “What’s as important as it is to identify the perpetrators is the messaging that that goes beyond this.
“If we don’t identify who they are, then it’s not the end of it. We’re not just going to tools down once the investigation is done.
“It’s something that needs to carry on this season, but then also beyond Josh when one day he departs Adelaide United.”
Soccer club’s blunt message to abusive spectators
Kosmina said Adelaide United are looking to hold a pride game as soon as February to promote inclusion in the sport.
He also gave a blunt message to any spectators hurling abuse at matches.
“We don’t want you in our game. It’s as simple as that,” he said.
“We don’t want anyone involved in our sport who is going to abuse our players for any reason.
“We want people coming to our games feeling safe and abuse of any nature isn’t welcome.
“Twenty, thirty years ago this sort of language was probably more common. Now, it’s not acceptable.
“I don’t want my young boys at a game where people are hurling abuse from the stands. I don’t think any families do.”
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