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Australian soccer star Josh Cavallo comes out as gay and says everyone "deserves the right to be their authentic self"

Australian soccer star Josh Cavallo came out as gay in a video posted by his club on Wednesday. Cavallo, 21, is the only openly gay player in top-tier men's professional soccer.

"There's something personal that I need to share with everyone," the midfielder said in the video shared by his A-League club, Adelaide United. "I'm a footballer and I'm gay." 

"Growing up, I always felt the need to hide myself because I was ashamed— ashamed I would never be able to do what I loved and be gay, hiding who I truly am to pursue a dream I've always wished for as a kid. All I want to do is play football and be treated equally,"

Cavallo admitted that trying to perform while living a "double life" was an "exhausting effort," something he doesn't want anyone else to go through. He believed he would be treated differently once others found out about his sexuality, he said, but after coming out privately, he received support from his teammates, coaches and family. 

"In football, you only have a small window to achieve greatness, and coming out publicly may have a negative impact on a career. As a gay footballer, I know there are other players living in silence," Cavallo wrote in a coinciding statement Wednesday. "I want to help change this, to show that everyone is welcome in the game of football and deserves the right to be their authentic self."

Cavallo has played with Adelaide United for eight months and recently signed a contract extension to stay with the team for an additional two years, according to the team's website. He previously spent 18 months with Western United.

In 2019, former footballer Andy Brennan became the first Australian professional men's soccer player to come out as an active player.

The soccer world extended its support to Cavallo on Wednesday. FC Barcelona star Gerad Piqué praised him on Twitter. "I don't have the pleasure to know you personally but I want to thank you for this step that you take," Piqué said. "The world of football is far behind and you are helping us move forward."

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