Gay Australian footballer Josh Cavallo says World Cup shouldn’t be going to Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.
The Sydney-born athlete, who plays for the Socceroos, was told he could leave the competition because he is gay.
“I really think the World Cup should come to Australia, because I think it’s a great tournament,” the 34-year-old told AAP.
“When I started I wasn’t even allowed in the Sydney FC dressing room. I used to go there and fight a bit with the guys, because they put up a big sign saying ‘Gay isn’t welcome here’.
“So obviously I’m a bit sad that I can’t play in the World Cup with a team that’s happy to have me there.”
Australia is set to play three friendlies, including against France, but Cavallo’s position on the squad should not be affected.
“There’s no reason not to take the squad to Doha,” he said.
“I’m not asking for any special privileges or special treatment. This is a team representing Australia, it’s not a Gay Cup.”
In recent years, Australia and gay rights advocates have been at loggerheads.
“Australia’s a very homophobic country, and it’s just one of those things,” Cavallo told Fairfax Media’s The World Today.
“I’ve never had any problems from Australians.”
Meanwhile, the Socceroos are gearing up for a massive World Cup in 2013.
Australia will feature in every match and kick off their title defence against the Netherlands in Belo Horizonte on November 30.
Australia: How the Socceroos’ squad and players have fared
“It’s a great opportunity to go into a tournament where you don’t have the pressure of being asked to go toe-to-toe with the best in the world,” Cavallo said.
“There’s no pressure of beating everyone else, or even coming within two goals of them.”
The Socceroos’ squad includes midfielders Ange Postecoglou, James Shea, Mile Jedinak, Michael McGlinchey, Tim Cahill, Brett Emerton, Ashley Cooper and Nicky Carle, and defenders Mark Milligan, Andrew Embley, Kurtis Byrne, Nathan Burns and Tim Cahill.
In case of the Netherlands being crowned World Cup Champions, Australia will be in the running to