4 August 2017

OUR Common Goal

 

by Jürgen Griesbeck

 

Today is one day after the so-called historical agreement that saw Neymar Jr move from FC Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain. The transfer alone was worth €220 million. Once wages are taken into account, it is estimated the deal will cost PSG around double that. Of course, much of this money will continue to circulate and grow within the upper-echelon of the football industry to a point that the unbreakable loyalty of fans and football lovers seems to become brittle with disenchantment and alienation.

 

But this needn’t necessarily be the case. Imagine, for a moment, a world in which a portion of the money from Neymar Jr’s record-breaking deal were injected into something of deeper value to football fans and their communities. And not only Neymar Jr, but all football players, everywhere. And not only the players, but also the institutions and the businesses. Through Common Goal, this is precisely what we are trying to achieve. The idea is simple. To start, football players pledge 1% of their salaries to a collective fund, which is then invested in best practice football-based charities around the world.

 

 

Over time, and sooner rather than later, the pledge will be available not only for players but everybody in the football industry who generates money through the game. Imagine what this would mean for the game and the world—creating a lasting connection between the business of football and sustainable social change. A collective pledge of football, driven by impact as opposed to profit maximisation and title collection at all cost. And hey, we are talking 1%!

 

Today, Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata stepped up and became the first player to make the pledge. He’s now calling on his fellow players to do likewise, kicking off a movement to reshape an industry.

 

Juan is not only an incredibly talented footballer, but also (more importantly) an exceptional human being. Genuine, interested, approachable and with a contagious can-do attitude. When Juan and I met in person and discussed the potential of football in general, and Common Goal in particular, it was not anymore a conversation between a football star and a social entrepreneur. We shared our ideas, our dreams, that are in essence the same. We want to help as much as we can and we both love football.

 

I know that there are many more like Juan in football who are seeking to escape the artificial “bubble” they find themselves in. They want to overcome the paradigm that the whole world is only chasing their money and would happily put contribution before ego. But the protective environment around footballers makes it very difficult to actually have these face-to-face conversations.

 

Common Goal has the ambition to maximise the power of football for the benefit of our societies. Even though there is a lot going wrong in football, Common Goal doesn’t dwell on the many issues that need to be resolved. Rather, it focuses on the unique potential football continues to demonstrate. We strongly believe that there is an untapped opportunity for football and that the time is ripe to unlock it. We need to remind ourselves of the essence of the game and thus magnify its beauty.

 

Don’t get me wrong, many institutions and individuals within the business are working hard on identifying ways to “give back to society”. FIFA with its Football for Hope programme, the English Premier League, the UEFA Foundation for Children, as well as the many foundations of football federations, clubs and players. Most of these efforts are well intended and create truly admirable social impact.

 

There are, however, many efforts that are understaffed and ill-equipped attachments to the core business, often reduced to political or PR instruments to further maximise the profits of their respective shareholders. To make matters worse, these initiatives enter the playing field as competitors, in turn making those whom they are seeking to help compete with each other unhealthily to access the limited financial resources dedicated to social impact.

 

Initiatives like the European Football for Development Network, EFDN, or the Football Club Social Alliance, have started to create much needed platforms for exchange and collaboration in the space of Football (Clubs) for Good. The English Premier League and The FA have been pioneers not only but also with the creation of The Football Foundation and the community schemes across all professional football clubs. This is exactly the approach Common Goal tries to promote. How do we go best about the product (football) we have at hand in order to maximise the social impact we can have with the same product at its core.

 

The latter has emerged alongside and as part of a promising development that has taken root over the last 15 to 20 years. Social impact driven organisations—almost all of them NGOs—have identified football as an efficient tool to resolve the issues they are tackling in the fields of education, health, social inclusion, forced migration, trauma caused by war and gender equality. The driving force behind this movement is the passion of social entrepreneurs to support underserved communities in the most effective and swift way. They work in environments where time is of the essence, as the challenges they face are immediate and often a matter of life and death.

 

streetfootballworld has developed a network of best practice in this field in order to align these community-based organisations behind a shared vision. We aspire to build trust among them and create access to existing experience and knowledge. We represent over 120 organisations, with more than 6000 professionals, working in over 80 countries to serve 2.3 million disadvantaged young people. In fact, if the field of football for good was a football federation, it would—with the reach of streetfootballworld alone—rank in the top 5 overall and number 2 regarding female participation.

 

So, on the one hand, we have an industry that harbours a wealth of gargantuan proportions, built on the passion and loyalty of the people. On the other, a football for good community has come into existence and matured into a global network of connected, impact-driven professionals and the non-profit organisations they have founded. In their communities, football is making a massive difference in people’s lives, each and every day.

 

With Common Goal we aim to provide the missing link between these two sides of the football coin. 1% is a small step that could drive enormous change. We just need to align behind a united vision for football. For our shared passion, for the good of the world.

 

It took Juan’s courage to take this first step to kick it off, but it will require all of us to see it through, Let’s make it all OUR Common Goal.

 

If you share our vision then make your voice heard. Get involved at www.common-goal.org.