With the money coursing through the global soccer market this summer, the game can probably afford to give a little away. The recently completed deal to send Brazilan star Neymar from Barcelona to Paris St. Germain is worth more than $500 million–an incredible amount for a man with two legs, two arms, and most of the other normal human features. The sums paid for players this summer have flabbergasted even long-time observers of the market.
Juan Mata, a midfielder for Manchester United, certainly thinks it’s time the players gave up a little of their paycheck–1% of their annual salary to soccer-related charities around planet. “Today, I am launching something that I hope will help to change the world, even if only in some small way,” he writes in an article for The Players Tribune today. “And I hope that other footballers around the world will help me in this goal.”
The pledge idea is the brainchild of StreetFootballWorld, a network of more than 120 organizations driving social change through soccer. That includes groups using soccer for peace-building, integrating refugees, promoting employment, and gender equality. It plans to unveil new players making salary pledges leading up to the World Cup in Russia next year.
There have been several successful pledge initiatives, including Founders Pledge, Pledge 1%, and One Percent for The Planet. StreetFootballWorld hopes to emulate that within the soccer community. The money goes to Common Goal, a fund started by StreetFootballWorld, which will funnel the donations to soccer-related charities.
“More or less the same idea [of the pledge] has been mapped on to different industries, and a huge amount of money has been raised in total across the initiatives,” says StreetFootballWorld spokesperson Andrew Erlanger. “We want to take the mode and bring it to the increasingly lucrative football industry.”
It’s certainly lucrative, but it’s not only about the money, he says. “Football players have so much reach, influence and cultural significance that when they do things, people take notice. The pledge is important financially, but also about the setting an example really for all the fans of the game to follow.”