Juan Mata’s Common Goal project has already reeled in 30 players since kicking off in August – but now it has reached the very top of the beautiful game by convincing UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin to get on board.
The 50-year-old Slovenian, who took over the UEFA presidency in September last year from Spaniard Ángel María Villar, was unveiled as part of the initiative in a Facebook Live stream on Wednesday.
🚨 Join us for a BIG Common Goal announcement, live from UEFA HQ in Switzerland! 🌍(Announcement starts @ 19 minutes)
Posted by Juan Mata on Wednesday, November 29, 2017
This follows a week of organisers revealing a new player every day, including Brighton ace Bruno Sartor, before landing the man highest up Europe’s football food chain Čeferin.
The initiative, run by global outfit Streetfootballworld, takes the donated salaries and pools them to help football charities all over the world to aid causes as diverse as gender equality in India and refugee integration in Germany.
In total, more than 92,000 people have sold The Big Issue since 1991 to help themselves work their way out of poverty – more than could fit into Wembley Stadium.
Čeferin said: “I firmly believe that football has the power to change the world and I was inspired by Juan Mata to join the Common Goal movement.
“It’s great to see a player leading this movement because footballers have benefitted greatly from football and this way they can give something back.
“I call upon everyone in the football family – players, coaches, clubs and leagues – to show they care about social responsibility and donate to causes that they believe in.”
In the space of four months, Common Goal has attracted Premier League stars Charlie Daniels and Alfie Mawson as well as defensive titans Mats Hummels and Giorgio Chiellini and Bundesliga playmakers Serge Gnabry and Shinji Kagawa.
Top US women’s players Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe have also agreed to donate while sought-after Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann became the first manager to join up from the dugout.
Mata welcomed Čeferin’s introduction, he said: “I deeply thank Aleksander for the trust he puts in Common Goal and I can only applaud his gesture and agree with his strong conviction that football can help shape a better world. He is the first football leader to join our cause and I truly hope that many will follow his example.”
Jürgen Griesbeck, founder of Streetfootballworld, concluded: “Football aligned behind a shared vision for good can be incredibly impactful. If everyone gets behind Common Goal, in one way or another, we could change the lives of tens of millions of people across the globe, thanks to a common passion for the game.”
Images courtesy of Harold Cunningham