Australian footballer Josh Cavallo has come out as gay, becoming one of the few professional men's soccer players in the world to do so.
The Adelaide United midfielder announced that he was gay in a video posted to the team's Twitter account Tuesday night.
"I'm a footballer, and I'm gay," said an emotional Cavallo.
Josh's Truth pic.twitter.com/NKSEP2kVWV— Adelaide United (@AdelaideUnited) October 27, 2021
"Growing up, I always felt the need to hide myself, because I was ashamed. Ashamed I would never be able to do what I love and be gay, hiding who I really am to pursue a dream I always wished for as a kid. All I want to do is play football and be treated equally," he said.
Cavallo, 21, said he feared people would think differently of him when he came out, but that he's received an overwhelming amount of support from his loved ones, coaches and fellow teammates.
"I want to inspire and show people that it's OK to be yourself and play football. It's OK to be gay and to play football," he said. "Be yourself. You were meant to be yourself, not someone else."
Cavallo received messages of support on social media from other top-tier football clubs, including FC Barcelona and Juventus.
Cavallo is perhaps the highest-level footballer currently playing in professional soccer to come out, but he's not the only one.
Collin Martin, a current U.S. soccer player for the San Diego Loyal, came out publicly as gay in 2018 when he was playing for the Minnesota United. Andy Brennan became the first openly gay Australian footballer when he came out in 2019, according to the Guardian.
This year has seen several U.S. male professional athletes come out as the first openly gay players currently participating in their respective sports, including NHL hockey player Luke Prokop and NFL defensive end Carl Nassib.
This post originally appeared in the Morning Edition live blog.
An earlier version of this story mistakenly said that Josh Cavallo was the first active male player for a top-flight soccer squad to come out publicly as gay. Cavallo is one of the few professional soccer players to announce they are gay.