Juan Mata’s most important goal

27 June 2022

Juan Mata is an attacking midfielder, most recently playing for English Premier League club Manchester United and Spain’s national team. He has had a hugely successful career, including winning the UEFA Champions League with Chelsea, and the FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2012 with Spain. In 2017, he was involved in the launch of Common Goal, a movement that encourages everyone in the world of football to pledge at least 1% of their salary or revenues to a collective fund that supports charities around the world. We spoke to him about his motivations and goals for the initiative.

What was your motivation behind starting the Common Goal movement?

I felt, and still feel, very privileged, living the life that so many kids around the world dream of, by getting paid to play football for a world-famous club like Manchester United. My motivation behind the initiative was to give something back and to create a team of like-minded individuals and organisations who could maximise the impact of my contribution and those of other people. Football has huge power to bring people together, and I thought Common Goal was a great way of tapping into that potential.

Nearly five years on my motivation remains unchanged, and I’m still truly excited every time a new member joins and I see the team growing. More than 200 players and managers have joined so far, and a number of clubs, football executives, media figures, and retired players have also become part of the movement.

What are the main causes that Common Goal supports, and why?

We focus on eight impact areas that drive progress towards the Global Goals1: racial justice, gender equality, peace building, climate action, LGBTQ+ inclusion, youth employability, health, and education. In doing so, we support more than 100 charities from around the world. These charities are involved in areas as diverse as peacebuilding in Colombia, gender equality in India, and refugee integration in Germany.

What does Common Goal mean to you personally?

For me, it means that my career on the pitch also has a real impact off the pitch. Even before launching Common Goal, I knew I wanted to do something meaningful off the pitch. I felt a responsibility and desire to give something back. Since Common Goal was launched, that feeling has grown and become an even bigger part of who I am as a person and a player. It has been, and still is, an inspiring journey that enables me to be part of something that’s bigger than football.

How have your fellow players and the wider football industry reacted to the Common Goal movement?

The reaction from fellow players and other participants in the wider football industry has been very positive. What’s more, the media has always shown a lot of interest in the Common Goal movement and has played an important role in its growth and development. It’s also been great to see that football fans have really got behind the vision and purpose of Common Goal. I think that’s because it helps show fans that football really can be a driver of positive social change – something that not everyone is aware of. At the same time, the movement reflects some of football’s most important core values: team play, community, inclusivity, unity, and togetherness. 

What is the ultimate purpose of this initiative? What is your proudest achievement so far?

Common Goal’s vision, as we officially state it, is “repurposing football, for good”. To do so, Common Goal creates opportunities for everyone involved in football to take meaningful action in support of people and the planet. I think our greatest achievement so far has been to create a model and mechanism that enables everyone to be an active part of the society we want to create. 

adidas became a sponsor of Common Goal in 2021. Why is this so important to the success of the movement?

adidas has pledged 1% of its net revenues from sales of its footballs to the cause until 2023. This was a really important step in Common Goal’s journey. First, because adidas was the first impact sponsor to join the Common Goal movement, and that represented a new way of partnering with brands to create a long-lasting impact based on purpose and values. Second, adidas’ pledge means the footballs themselves carry a purpose. I think that’s a great metaphor for what can actually be accomplished with football. The 1% pledge doesn’t take anything from the ball: it actually adds another layer – a layer of purpose.

The ball is a symbol of what can be achieved and I’m confident that it will help open the minds and hearts of fans, clubs, competition organisers, brands, and everyone involved in football, and encourage them to be part of our journey.

The world of football is powerful and influential. How do you think it can contribute more to the cause?

The more players, clubs, and organisations that join this or other causes, the bigger the impact. We would like Common Goal to be seen as an example, if we all play a small part and find a way to work as a team, I believe we can solve any challenge that lies ahead.

What would you say to anyone who would like to help make the world a better place but doesn’t know where to start?

Everyone can play a part in making our world a more sustainable, equal, and fair place for us all. This could be through taking the 1% pledge, either to Common Goal or to other initiatives, giving your time, or taking other actions in support of people and the planet. But it’s important to always remember that, like in football, the biggest challenges can only be tackled if we work together as a team.

Photo credit: streetfootballworld

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