Melbourne Victory could face penalties after Football Australia issued a ‘demonstration cause’ notice to the club on Saturday following homophobic abuse directed at Adelaide United’s Josh Cavallo by fans during an A-League game last week.
Cavallo, who last year became the world’s only top gay professional footballer, spoke out about 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 review the club’s initial response and any further action it takes before making a decision on the incident, which involved a “small contingent” of Victory supporters.
“I would like to reiterate that this conduct is not welcome 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 would like to commend Josh for his courage in speaking out against this behaviour. I also commend the strong reactions from Melbourne Victory, Adelaide United, the Australian professional leagues and the wider football community to this incident.”
Victory has until 5 p.m. local time (6 a.m. GMT) on January 18 to respond to the notice.
“Josh continues to show immense courage”
Speaking immediately after the incident, Adelaide chief executive Nathan Kosmina said the club had a zero-tolerance approach to homophobic abuse, praising Cavallo for the bravery he continues to show .
“Adelaide United pride themselves on being an inclusive and diverse football club and to see one of our players victimized by homophobic abuse is disappointing and heartbreaking,” Kosmina said.
“Josh continues to show immense courage and we join him in speaking out against abuse, which has no place in society, and it will not be tolerated by our club.”
Cavallo: Football must change to become welcoming to LGBT+ players
Cavallo spoke to Sky Sports News in October after coming out publicly as gay and believing his decision was the time for football to “change” and become a more welcoming environment for LGBT+ players.
He said: “I want to send a message to the world 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 what you believe in.
“At the end of the day, it’s 2021 and it’s time to change that in football. To have this day today, I’m so overwhelmed and happy with the response I’ve received.
“I was very shocked and surprised that the news went around the world. I am so honored and grateful that the clubs are bypassing me, the players are bypassing me and I will end up answering everyone, I I am grateful for your support so thank you all.
“I struggled a lot with not being able to look up to someone and knowing that no one had done that before, so it was hard for me to come out and it took me about six years. So I understand the pain, I know how it feels I like being in the shadows, living a double life and lying to the people you care about.”