Melbourne Victory could face sanctions after Football Australia issued a ‘show cause’ notice to the club on Saturday following the homophobic abuse directed at Adelaide United’s Josh Cavallo by fans in an A-League match last week.
Cavallo, who last year became the only out gay professional top-flight men’s footballer in the world, called out the abuse on Instagram, saying he had “no words” to describe his disappointment.
Adelaide and Victory released statements shortly after Cavallo’s post, condemning the abuse and said they were working with the Australian Professional Leagues to investigate.
Football Australia said it would consider the club’s initial response and any other measures it takes before making a decision regarding the incident, which involved a “small contingent” of Victory supporters.
“I want to reiterate that this conduct 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, ability or disability, cultural or religious background.
“I want to applaud Josh for his courage in calling out this behaviour. I also welcome the strong responses from Melbourne Victory, Adelaide United, the Australian Professional Leagues, and the broader football community towards this incident.”
Victory have until 5pm local time (6am GMT) on January 18 to respond to the notice.
‘Josh continues to show immense courage’
Speaking in the immediate aftermath of the incident, Adelaide chief executive Nathan Kosmina said the club has a zero-tolerance approach over homophobic abuse, praising Cavallo for the bravery he continues to show.
“Adelaide United is proud to be an inclusive and diverse football club and to see one of our players subjected to homophobic abuse is disappointing and upsetting,” Kosmina said.
“Josh continues to show immense courage and we join him in calling out abuse, which has no place in society, and it will not be tolerated by our club.”
Cavallo spoke to Sky Sports News in October after coming out publicly as gay and believed his decision was a time for football to “change” and become a more welcoming environment for LGBT+ players.
He said: “I want to get a message across to the world to show that it doesn’t 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 what you look like or believe in.
“At the end of the day, we are 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 received.
“I was very shocked and taken aback by the fact that the news went around the world. I am so honoured and grateful that clubs are getting around me, players are getting around me and I’ll get round to replying to everyone eventually, I am grateful for your support so thank you everyone.
“I struggled a lot not being able to look up to someone and knowing that no one has done this before so it was hard for me to come out and it took me about six years. So I understand the pain, I know what it feels like to be in the shadows and live a double life and lie to the people that you care about.”