Juan Mata is a footballer familiar with the taste of success. He has won titles in the Premier League and Spain at club level, as well as a European Championship and a World Cup with the Spanish National team. He even has a Champions League medal amongst his haul, so it seems as though the Spanish maestro has won almost everything there is to win as a footballer. In the last year, his focus has shifted elsewhere – Common Goal.
Common Goal is a charity that aims to take advantage of the global phenomenon that is the game of football. It is true that no other sport has a reach as global as football or more importantly, the same amount of money circulating within the sport. Over 1 billion people tuned in to watch the 2014 World Cup Final live.
The notion is simple, professional footballers who sign up to the charity will donate 1% of their wages to a fund. This fund is then allocated to football charities that have the ability to create the greatest impact across the globe. The initiative wants to “transform the beautiful game into a powerful force for good.”
Mata set up the organisation in collaboration with Jürgen Griesbeck – the founder of streetfootballworld. Mata’s reported annual salary from Manchester United was £8.5 million in 2015, and that doesn’t include sponsorship deals or any other avenues of income he may have. This means Mata himself would donate around £850,000 a year to the project.
Mata is, of course, a player that is in a higher wage bracket than most, but according to a Global Sports Salaries Survey released in late November of 2017 the average annual income of a Premier League footballer is £2,642,508, around £50k a week. There are 25 players selected in a Premier League team’s squad, and 20 teams in England’s top flight.
That means there are about 500 players on an average salary of just over £2.5 million in one English league alone. If they were all to join Common Goal that would mean donations of over £1.3 billion a year. That kind of money could have a real impact in impoverished areas, it also begs the question, does the potential of this charity far exceed causes solely related to football?
Mata was awarded the Guardian Footballer of the Year for 2017 by the British newspaper for his philanthropic efforts and has even presented at the World Economic Forum with Griesbeck to highlight the impact the charity has had already.
The possibilities of this kind of movement within football alone could have a significant positive impact on the world. England has 92 full-time professional clubs across four leagues. There are thousands of professional football teams across the world, it is a multi-billion, if not trillion, pound industry. Common Goal has already added 50 footballing stars to its cause from leagues across the globe.
If the highest earning professional athletes across all different sports from basketball to American football, and football to golf, were to contribute in a similar sort of way it’s hard to quantify how much money could actually be donated through such a collective effort. It would make little difference to their income but a huge difference to disadvantaged and impoverished people all over the world.