The only openly gay footballer in current top-flight, Australia’s Josh Cavallo said he is scared to play the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The Middle-Eastern country is yet to decriminalise homosexuality. 

Cavallo came out last month saying that he ‘had been fighting his sexuality for six years’ and was glad that he can put that to rest. The 21-year-old plays for A-League club Adelaide United. International stars including legendary Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Gerard Pique supported his coming out. 

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However, the midfielder said that he was not sure what he would do if he were selected to play at the 2022 World Cup. He currently plays for Australia at the under-20 level. 

“I read something along the lines of that [they] give the death penalty for gay people in Qatar, so it’s something I’m very scared [of] and wouldn’t really want to go to Qatar for that,” Cavallo told the Guardian’s Today in Focus podcast.

“And that saddens me. At the end of the day the World Cup is in Qatar and one of the greatest achievements as a professional footballer is to play for your country, and to know that this is in a country that doesn’t support gay people and puts us at risk of our own life, that does scare me and makes me re-evaluate — is my life more important than doing something really good in my career?”

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In 2020, an International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) report said sources indicated the death penalty could potentially be used as punishment for consensual homosexual sex in Qatar.

Nasser al-Khater, the chief executive of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, however, said – in 2019 – that “any fan, of any gender, (sexual) orientation, religion, race (should) rest assured that Qatar is one of the most safe countries in the world — and they’ll all be welcome here”.