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The Intersection of Football, Human Rights, and LGBTQ+ Advocacy: In Conversation with Josh Cavallo

The FIFA World Cup in Qatar came to a close last year, but football fans around the world still feel the buzz. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is quickly becoming a significant player in the football arena, attracting big-name athletes and major investments. While these developments may be good news for the sport's growth, they raise serious ethical questions about LGBTQ+ rights and human rights in general.


The LOAF Podcast: A Candid Conversation with Josh Cavallo


Cavallo made headlines in 2021 as the first openly gay footballer in top-flight football. We discussed this issue during a recent interview with Josh Cavallo on the LOAF Podcast. In this conversation, he spoke candidly about the complexities of playing in countries with laws hostile to LGBTQ+ communities.


Cavallo expressed his concerns, saying, "It's just sad because..if I didn't come out, I would be able to go [to Saudi Arabia] no problem. Because I'm out now, is it a burden to go there?" He continued, "Coming out has limited where I can play in this world for my safety and for my own life. There are definitely some countries where I will not head to in my footballing career just in order to protect my safety."


The Responsibility of Individual Players


When asked about the ethical responsibility of players choosing to work in countries like Saudi Arabia, Cavallo brought up cases like David Beckham and Jordan Henderson. Both have been allies to the LGBTQ+ community, but their actions suggest a different narrative when it comes to choosing career opportunities over ethical stances.


"David Beckham was such an ally for the LGBTQ+ community, and then he didn't say anything when we needed him to speak up about the Qatar laws," said Cavallo. "It's just sad because when everyone jumps on board, it's easy to jump on board, but when times get difficult, that's when it's hard."


Money Talks, but at What Cost?


Henderson's case adds another layer to the complexity. Despite wearing a pride armband and lauding Cavallo for coming out as gay, Henderson moved to Saudi Arabia, a country notorious for its human rights abuses. "When I did need them, they definitely weren't there," Cavallo observed, adding, "I feel like to a certain extent: money talks."


Conclusion: A Call for Consistency


The growth of football in Qatar and Saudi Arabia poses ethical dilemmas that can't be ignored, especially when high-profile players and advocates seemingly sidestep these issues for lucrative contracts. As Josh Cavallo points out, advocacy shouldn't be a trend that players jump on only when it's convenient.


As fans, it's crucial to demand more from our heroes on the field. It's not enough to be an ally when it's easy. Real courage comes from standing up for what's right, even when the stakes are high, and your career is on the line.


If you're keen to delve deeper into Cavallo’s insights, check out our YouTube interview with him.


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