Melbourne Victory could face sanctions after Football Australia issued a “show cause” message to the club on Saturday following the homophobic abuse against Adelaide United’s Josh Cavallo by fans in an A-League match last week.
Cavallo, who last year became the only gay professional top footballer for men in the world, called the abuse on Instagram, saying he had “no words” to describe his disappointment.
Adelaide and Victory released statements shortly after Cavallo’s speech condemning the abuse and saying they were working with the Australian professional leagues to investigate.
Football Australia said it would consider the club’s initial reaction and any other measures it takes before making a decision regarding the incident, which involved a “small contingent” of Victory supporters.
“I would like to reiterate that this behavior is unwelcome in football,” Football Australia CEO James Johnson said in a statement.
“Everyone should be able to enjoy participating in our sport regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, abilities or disability, cultural or religious background.
“I would like to applaud Josh for his courage in calling this behavior. I also welcome the strong reactions from Melbourne Victory, Adelaide United, the Australian professional leagues and the wider football community to this incident.”
The victory has until kl. 17.00 local time (6.00 GMT) on 18 January to respond to the message.
‘Josh continues to show tremendous courage’
In immediate continuation of the incident, Adelaide’s CEO Nathan Kosmina said the club has a zero-tolerance approach to homophobic abuse and praised Cavallo for the bravery he continues to show.
“Adelaide United are proud to be an inclusive and diverse football club and to see one of our players being subjected to homophobic abuse is disappointing and outrageous,” said Kosmina.
“Josh continues to show tremendous courage and we join him in calling abuses that have no place in society and it will not be tolerated by our club.”
Cavallo: Football needs to change to become inviting for LGBT + players
Cavallo spoke Sky Sports news in October, after he came out publicly as gay and believed his decision was a time when football should “change” and become a more welcoming environment for LGBT + players.
He said: “I want to get a message out to the world to show that it does not matter who you are, what you believe in or what culture or background you come from, everyone is accepted in football. It should be based on your talent not on how you look or believe.
“Ultimately, we’re in 2021 and it’s time to change this in football. To have this day today, I’m so overwhelmed and happy with the response I’ve got.
“I was very shocked and surprised by the fact that the news went around the world. I am so honored and grateful that clubs are coming around me, players are coming around me and I will come around to answer everyone in the end, I I’m grateful for your support, so thank you all.
“I struggled a lot not to be able to look up to anyone and know that no one has done this before, so it was hard for me to get out and it took me about six years. So I understand the pain, I know what it feels like liking to be in the shadows and live a double life and lie to the people you care about. “