Juan Mata's 'Common Goal' to use football for good purpose
World Cup winner Juan Mata is breaking the mould, challenging the general perception of spoilt, rich footballers and helping to awaken the sport's social conscience through the Common Goal project
Manchester United's Spanish midfield player Juan Mata takes part in a Spanish class with pupils during a visit to Royton Hall Primary School through the Manchester United Foundation in Oldham, England on February 19, 2018. Juan Mata is a little bit different to the general impression of spoilt rich footballers, for the World Cup and Champions League winner has become the social conscience of the world's premier sport. It is reflected in the engaging 28-year-old Spanish forward's ambition to make his Common Goal project -- launched last year with German Juergen Griesbeck the founder of streetfootballworld -- 'the biggest football club in the world' as he told AFP. Pic/AFP
World Cup winner Juan Mata is breaking the mould, challenging the general perception of spoilt, rich footballers and helping to awaken the sport's social conscience through the Common Goal project.
The Manchester United midfielder is encouraging players to follow his example and pledge a minimum of one percent of their wages to a collective fund -- and he wants to make it "the biggest football club in the world". So far 34 footballers, including German World Cup winner Mats Hummels, Italy's Giorgio Chiellini and Japan's Shinji Kagawa plus UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, have pledged part of their salary to Common Goal, run by NGO streetfootballworld, which has assembled a global network of community organisations.
Mata's one percent helps the India-based OSCAR Foundation, which promotes the value of education through football, a gender equality project in Colombia and also goes into a general pot. The Spanish international, speaking to AFP after visiting two primary schools through his work with the Manchester United Foundation in a deprived area of northwest England, is disarmingly modest about being seen as a figurehead of Common Goal.
"Curiosity got me into it," says the 29-year-old. "Someone had to start it and Jurgen (Griesbeck, the founder of streetfootballworld) and myself said 'let's start and see how people react' and they have reacted well.
"It is not about myself. It is trying to be the biggest football club in the world. "Just with me it wouldn't go very far. In football it is very important to have a team bond and spirit and even more so with Common Goal." Mata, who is also studying for two degrees, says he is happy with the response so far, even if he does not yet have a global superstar signed up. "People tend to think about the ones who aren't in and I prefer to talk about those who had the courage to voluntarily call and be part of it," he says. "I am really proud of them.
"We are having important discussions with people who make decisions in football about how to integrate Common Goal into the football industry and if it turns out differently it doesn't matter. I just feel it is needed and fair for the world somehow."
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