Footballers ready to take stand on causes

Lui Zacher
October 27, 2022 / 9:28 pm

Footballers ready to take stand on causes

As professional athletes find their voices, Melbourne Victory’s George Timotheou and Kayla Morrison expect footballers to only become more determined to stand up for causes they believe in.

The past fortnight has proved a flashpoint for athletes taking a stand, regardless of the potential financial consequences or other repercussions.

The Diamonds’ solidarity for Indigenous teammate Donnell Wallam’s reluctance to wear a Hancock Prospecting logo came to a head with the mining company pulling the pin on its Netball Australia sponsorship.

Meanwhile, Pat Cummins confirmed he will not appear in any advertisements for Cricket Australia sponsor Alinta Energy this season due to his stance on climate change.

Then, on Thursday, the World Cup-bound Socceroos called for Qatar to decriminalise same-sex relationships and honour workers’ rights.

Victory will host Adelaide United in the Pride Cup, an A-League Men/Women double-header at AAMI Park, on Sunday February 26.

ALM defender Timotheou is a friend and former Adelaide teammate of Josh Cavallo, the only active openly gay player in the competition.

A year on from Cavallo’s coming out announcement, Timotheou said the 22-year-old had also given players confidence to front causes they believed in.

“We have this platform in the public eye to speak out and if there are these social issues or broader issues that we can project with our voices, people are going to listen,” Pride Cup ambassador Timotheou told reporters.

“Because kids look up to footballers, to sporting figures, and if we can make a positive change, then we will – no matter the repercussions.

“It just goes down to your values and who you are as a person. I don’t think we should shy away from standing up for what we believe in.

“Although there may be repercussions or sponsors may pull out or whatnot, I don’t think it’s something that we should back down from. I think that it’s something that we should embrace.”

Cavallo received homophobic abuse at a Victory home game and Timotheou hoped the Pride Cup and accompanying educational pieces would help prevent similar ugly scenes.

Women’s football has long been a safe haven for the LGBTI+ community.

Victory ALW skipper Morrison said players were also increasingly willing to become figureheads for causes they believed in.

“There are a lot of girls who stand for a lot of things,” she said.

“Victory’s amazing. Their doors are always open if you want to come have conversations.

“The PFA (players’ union) is also amazing about that. If there’s something that you want to stand up for, they’re happy to listen, they’re happy to get you involved with anything that you want.

“You do see it a lot more nowadays, girls are standing up for a lot of things that are close to them and in turn, other girls are hopping on board as well.”

The Victorian government will be providing $200,000 in educational support and activations for the Pride Cup.

AAP (C) 2022

Victory’s Kayla Morrison (3-l) and George Timotheou (2-r) believe athletes are finding their voices. (Diego Fedele/AAP PHOTOS)