Gay Australian footballer Josh Cavallo savaged FIFA Tuesday over its threat to discipline teams at the World Cup who wear rainbow-themed armbands, saying it proved the sport was not for everyone.
The armbands, in support of LGBTQ rights, have widely been viewed as a symbolic protest against laws in World Cup host Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.
Members of seven European teams, including England and Germany, wanted to wear them, but abandoned the plan after football’s world governing body said they could be punished with yellow cards.
“FIFA have banned all teams to wear the One Love Armband to actively support LGBTQ+ at the World Cup. FIFA, you have lost my respect,” Cavallo said on Instagram, adding: “I love my identity.
“All the work my fellow allies and the LGBTQ+ community are doing to make football inclusive, you have shown that football isn’t a place for everyone.”
Cavallo, who plays for Adelaide United in Australia’s A-League, came out in 2021 as the only openly gay men’s footballer playing in a top-flight league.
His decision to go public won plaudits throughout the footballing world and beyond, including from major clubs such as Liverpool, Barcelona, AC Milan and Tottenham Hotspur.
Cavallo also took issue with FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s call earlier this month on teams at the World Cup to “focus on football” and stop “handing out moral lessons”.
“It’s not the first time we’ve heard ‘Stick to football,'” he said on Twitter late Monday.
“The attacks on the LGBTQ+ community from World Cup leaders affects so many who live in silence because of your draconian ways.
“To be a great leader in sport, one must never give up trying to bring ALL people together.”