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04th Aug 2017

Juan Mata’s wage gesture is what football needs right now

Pure class

Patrick McCarry

A superb endeavour that could make a real difference.

Football has a lot of nice guys but Juan Mata must be the nicest.

The Manchester United and Spain midfielder has a hit-list of sound, selfless deeds over the years and is generally liked by football fans, no matter their allegiance.

Whether it is donating toys to charity, meeting and greeting fans long after everyone else has boarded the team bus or posing for snaps with disabled supporters after scoring late winners, Mata is a true gent.

He put an awful lot in and is always mindful to give back. That is why is hardly surprising, but no less commendable, to hear of the charity venture Mata has signed up for.

Mata is committed to contributing 1% of his United salary to a collective fund, Common Goal, which is run by Street Football World. He hopes that by signing up, it will inspire other footballers, clubs and organisations like Uefa and Fifa to do likewise.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Guardian, he comments:

“Every time someone signs for a team, when the salaries are paid, when the accounts come in, at clubs, federations, agents and associations, 1% goes direct to social projects. No one looks at it and says, ‘Hey, what’s this 1% here?’ because everyone knows. Collectively football takes on a social responsibility, we set a new agenda, it’s understood that a part of what football generates goes to social projects. If you do it alone it’s hard but if you bring people together … It can be an engine for good, an act of social awareness within the system. We want to make it the new normal, the standard.”

“Football is incomparable to anything else,” Mata adds. “Perhaps only music has that same power to transform society. We have to translate that into something real.”

At a time when club’s transfer fees are being shattered on a regular basis and – in the case of £198m Neymar and a host of players now operating in the Chinese Super League – weekly salaries are up around £300,000, it is heartening to see Mata putting himself and this charitable initiative out there.

Using Neymar’s PSG transfer as an example, 1% of that transfer fee going into the collective fund would see just under £2m going to good causes across the world.

Fair play. A good idea and we hope it works.

Even thinking about it makes us feel better about football already.