Juan Mata has seen success in soccer at every level and has parlayed that success into millions of dollars in contracts and sponsorships throughout his career, which now has him starring for Manchester United, arguably the most impactful sporting brand on the planet.
So how is Mata looking to seize that stage going forward, with a bold, disruptive idea aimed at giving back; it is called Common Goal: a movement in which players pledge 1% of their salaries to a collective fund that supports football charities around the world. He is looking to assemble a ‘Starting XI’ of likeminded players who make the 1% pledge and lead the movement forward. Common Goal is the brainchild of streetfootballworld, an international leader in football for good. Established in 2002, the organization supports a network of more than 120 football charities in 80 countries that reach 2.3 million disadvantaged young people on a daily basis.
“What we’re trying to do is define a shared social agenda for football,” explained Mata in a release this week. “Common Goal goes beyond individual brands and egos to deliver a greater impact. By making the pledge, we can form a lasting connection between football as a business and football as a tool for social change.”
The film to launch the campaign was created by the UK’s Dark Horses and served as a great call to action to launch the idea.
Now of course the idea of athletes as celebrities tied to a cause is not new, nor is the idea of teams, leagues or individuals tying together to form one collective voice. The difference here is really the way Mata has approached it; a gross payment which can and probably will be in the millions going to one central place to help the good. It comes right from the pocket, has a tremendous resonance with its amount, and firmly puts a stake in the ground as a “put your money where your mouth is” idea. Will others join for what could be a vast sum, even when they have their own personal initiatives? Will it spread through the EPL and into national federations? Can it be truly global with the right partners?
All of those questions will be answered going forward. However for Mata, taking the first step is definitely the biggest one, and can thrust him into a leadership position not just on the pitch, but in the global conversation of sports, teams, athletes and brands looking to give back and make a difference.
Score one for the Man U midfielder.