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Why Juan Mata and Donald Trump will soon cross paths in a very unlikely meeting

Posted by
Dave Fawbert
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Trump Mata

Every so often, while you’re mindlessly scrolling through your Twitter feed gently loling at the odd mildly amusing cat picture and bog meme, you’re suddenly stopped in your tracks. “What,” you exclaim silently to yourself, “the hell was that I just saw?”

Granted, it’s happened a lot more often since 2016, but even so, spotting this one was enough for the average human to perform a double take.

Now, granted, those ‘Did I just read that right?’ moments have become a far more common beast since the arrival of Donald Trump on the political scene but, even so, this is not what you expect to read on a Tuesday morning. Juan Mata? Donald Trump? The World Economic Forum? Davos?

And before you know it your brain is finessing questions on the subject. Why is Juan Mata meeting Donald Trump? Why are they meeting at the World Economic Forum? And is Davos a place where only people called Dave are allowed to live?

Well, disappointingly, the answer to question three is: no. It’s an Alpine town and municipality in the Prättigau/Davos Region in the canton of Graubünden, Switzerland. And to the best of our knowledge, non-Daves are allowed to live there.

But as for the answers to questions one and two, the answer lies in a rather excellent initiative set up by the Manchester United and Spain midfielder, that you may not have been aware of.

In August 2017, World Cup winner Mata announced in an article for The Players’ Tribune that he was pledging 1% of his salary to a pledge-based charitable movement, called Common Goal - and that he planned to try and convince other players to do the same.

The movement was is part of streetfootballworld, which aims to change the world through football - specifically through programmes, infrastructure and events - which itself was founded by Jürgen Griesbeck, and aims to collect this tiny fraction of large salaries across the world in order to deliver long-term social impact on a global scale.

Mata himself explained to the Guardian: “It’s a very simple idea. But some of the best ideas are simple ones and, when it comes to football, the power of the game is incredible. Anyone who understands football will know why we are so hopeful and ambitious with Common Goal.”

In the short time since it was set up, 35 other football people from 17 countries - including Mats Hummels, Giorgio Chiellini, Shinji Kagawa, Kasper Schmeichel and leading women footballers Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe - have joined Mata in donating 1% of their salaries to Common Goal.

Meanwhile, it has also attracted its first head coach, Julian Nagelsmann, the 30-year-old in charge of Hoffenheim, while in November 2017, Aleksander Ceferin, the UEFA president, also pledged 1% of his salary.

Mata was inspired to start the initiative following the death of his grandfather, who had helped give him the love of the game.

“I had been thinking about doing my own foundation to help others. But I then met Jürgen Griesbeck. He’s been working in football for 15 years and he started in Colombia after the death of Andrés Escobar because he scored an own goal in the [1994] World Cup. We came up with the idea of bringing football together to help others. The idea is that it doesn’t have to be voluntary. We aim to have the 1% donation [embedded] within the structure of football.”

He also explained how he was inspired by Chelsea’s dramatic Champions League victory over Bayern Munich in 2012, explaning: “As we were celebrating, I looked around at my team-mates and saw the beauty of football. A keeper from the Czech Republic. A defender from Serbia and another from Brazil. Midfielders from Ghana, Nigeria, Portugal, Spain and England. And, of course, one incredible striker from Côte d’Ivoire [Didier Drogba].

Juan Mata Chelsea

Juan Mata celebrates his Champions League victory with Chelsea and Spain teammate Fernando Torres

“We came from all over the world, from different circumstances and spoke many different languages. Some had grown up during wartime. Some had grown up in poverty. But there we were, all standing together in Germany as champions of Europe. The way we had come together from all around the world to work for a common goal was more meaningful to me than the trophy. To me, that is something that can change the world for the better.”

Let’s hope Donald Trump, who will also be attending the World Economic Forum, decides to attend the event; he might learn a thing or two about bringing people together rather than driving them apart.

(Main image: Rex)