Axisstars is fully behind such initiative and hopefully we can set up soon something with mr Mata.
Juan Mata is putting together his starting XI. He is in there and there are a few others he thinks he can convince to join him. Some of them you will have heard of, some of them you will not but if this works out the way he hopes, one day everyone you have heard of in football and everyone you have not too will sign up. He believes it could change football for the better at a time when many think it is changing for the worse, the new world-record transfer fee more evidence for the prosecution. “I don’t want these to sound like empty words,” he says. “The idea is brilliant.”
The Manchester United and Spain midfielder is committed to contributing 1% of his salary to a collective fund called Common Goal run by streetfootballworld, a group of 120 charities in 80 countries. The rest of his starting XI will do the same. He aspires for others to choose to join in, until such a point as they do not even have to choose, it becomes part of the system: “a voluntary act ends up built into the structure of the game, something that’s there at all levels,” he says. “If Fifa and Uefa embrace it, that would be great.
“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.”
The ultimate end would be 1% of everything that football generates going into a central fund for use in charitable projects. On Thursday, Neymar joined Paris Saint-Germain. His transfer alone would contribute €2.5m (£2.25m).
It starts with a team. “I’m looking for 10 others – coaches, players, women’s players, people from all over the world: Africa, Asia, Australia,” he says. “Not all team-mates, there’ll be others I’ve played against and footballers who aren’t necessarily top-level. Not just players either – managers, presidents, clubs and federations. We want to build a momentum that can make a difference.” Mata, who recently returned from the slums of Mumbai, has seen it himself. “It can sound like a cliche,” he says, “but it’s true.”
Now he is leading something that he hopes can mobilise and transform the game. “I’ve spoken to people already. When you explain it, they understand and most of them are aware of the ability football has to make a difference. But it is true that footballers are mistrustful. They can be mindful of initiatives that didn’t happen or didn’t work. You have to show them that it is real and transparent. You also give them the chance to choose directly where their money goes – which project and where, what it is that moves them.
“You have to overcome that barrier and that’s the hardest thing. I’m inside, I trust in it. I can talk to them but the only way is to do it, to show them. That way you can convince them. Show them that it works, that it’s a collective project with the potential to improve the game and help a lot of people in an effective and sustainable way.
“Streetfootballworld have the experience and structure to make this efficient. That’s fundamental, it can be effective. Then maybe they’ll say: ‘OK, I’m in.
“Football sometimes has a bad reputation. Some of that is deserved … and some of it isn’t. There is a huge amount of money in the game, it is true. I’m not criticising that. If these salaries and transfer fees are paid it is because they can be. Compared to almost all other areas of society, there is a lot of money [but] when you work in an industry – any industry – and you want a pay rise, say, you compare yourself to what others in your industry are earning.
“Football generates a lot of money but there has to be a social responsibility that goes with that. It can positively affect people’s lives. It can help and that helps football too.
“People look at the negative sides of football but a lot of players and clubs already do a lot. People say: ‘Oh, they’re only doing it for their image’. I don’t agree: they’re still doing it but mostly it is on an individual level.
“This idea is more global, which gives it more power, more reach and makes it more effective. If we can do something collective and make it part of the system, if it can be structured and effective with a central, shared fund, it can transform football into something more than just a sport.
“Football’s incomparable to anything else – perhaps only music has that same power to transform society. We have to translate that into something real.”