Tom Tregay discusses some of the positive work footballers are doing for charities across the world
With many Premier League footballers earning in excess of £100,000 a week, many have stated how professional footballers earn far too much for what they do. Some have questioned that if they are going to be earning such extortionate amounts of money, are they going to ever give back to noble causes? Step in Manchester United’s Juan Mata. The Spanish midfielder has recently been campaigning for Premier League and players around the world alike to join him in donating 1% of their weekly wages to support football-related charities, and potentially even make this a rule for the high earning players of the game. His first aim is to put together a ‘Common goal Starting XI’ – a team of 11 players who each donate 1% of their wage to the charity ‘Common Goal’, started by Juan Mata himself, which aims to get as many football players as possible to make such donation.
Though 1% of a weekly wage may seem small amounts, it is put into perspective the potential for just how much can be raised when we are hit with the fact that Juan Mata himself is on a reported £130,000 a week salary under Manchester’s Red Devils – a comfortable figure to say the least. From donating 1% of his weekly wages, Mata is donating around £1,300 a week to charitable causes involved with his charity Common Goal. This is an amazing weekly donation that comes from just one player alone, and Mata earns not even half of some other players on his own teammates. Other Manchester United players earn a far superior amount in comparison, such as Paul Pogba, who reportedly earns an astonishing £290,000 a week. Just a mere 1% of these weekly wages from each player earning such amounts would no doubt be life changing for those in need.
“Mata is donating around £1,300 a week to charitable causes involved with his charity Common Goal”
Mata has received positive feedback from other players all over the world. Players such as German and Bayern Munich defender Mats Hummels, as well as Italian and Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini, have joined Mata’s pledge to give some of their big bucks back to the community, and to those who so desperately need it. In early November, Premier League players Charlie Daniels of Bournemouth and Swansea’s Alfie Mawson became the first players of England’s top tier of football to join the United star in what is now being dubbed as the ‘Juan percent pledge’ by football fans and media.
Although originally aimed for the high earners of the sport to pledge to the contributions, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe have joined Juan Mata in the donation pledge. The two female players from America earn far less in comparison to the likes of Premier League stars. Morgan, who earns circa $450,000 per year, is one of the higher earners of women’s football, yet still earns less per year than the higher earning players of men’s football do per month. More shockingly, Rapinoe earns less than $100,000 a year – less than Juan Mata’s weekly wage. It therefore displays the two’s sheer heart and charitable nature, who despite earning significantly less than the other player’s who have joined the cause, continue to play their part in allowing football as a sport to help the less fortunate.
The argument raised from this is whether all ‘high-earning’ players should donation small portion of their weekly wages to charity, or whether it should be left for the players as individuals or clubs to decide – as well as the question in are footballers earning too much money in today’s game, and are clubs spending too much money on players? Many will firstly say that, from an ethical standpoint, footballers should definitely give back to their communities or to charities when they earn such vast amounts of money. Take Brazilian winger Neymar as an example. The 25 year old became the most expensive footballer of all time after French giants Paris Saint Germain purchased him from Barcelona for the staggering fee of £198 million, and will now earn £782,000 (before tax). No doubt an exceptionally high amount, many argue that this is far too much for a footballer to be earning – the same goes in regard to the near £200 million transfer fee. There is no doubt that a small amount of this money could easily be put to better use. On the contrary, there is the argument that if a club has the money to pay such amounts for these players, and can afford such high wages, then they are fully entitled to do so, as long as they keep within the requirements of UEFA’s financial fair play regulations. In addition to this, those arguing this will also say that the player is under no obligation to donate their wages if they do not wish to do so. It’s their money, and they’re entitled to do as they please with it.
“The matter is something that has in fact entered the political realms of debate.”
The matter is something that has in fact entered the political realms of debate. The Labour Party’s call for a maximum wage law in the 2017 election came somewhat from the extortionate earnings of Premier League footballers, with Jeremy Corbyn himself calling the wages of footballers in the modern game ‘simply ridiculous’. In addition to this, the Labour leader called for English clubs to give up 5% of their TV rights and licensing earnings in order to address the lack of funding for the grassroots game – something that for decades has provided a form of exercise for the country’s youth, as well as a provision to keep the troubled or misguided off the streets and out of trouble.
Mata has definitely addressed the issue of this seeming overspending in modern football, and has, from doing so, raised the above arguments. In the summer window of 2017, Premier League clubs alone spent £1.4 billion – a figure that displays the ridiculous amounts of money players alone are being bought for these days, and with many earning more a week than some would be lucky to earn in a year in the UK, there are definitely questions that need to be raised as to whether something should be done in ensuring spending trends like this do not continue, and whether football clubs and players can at least give something back. Unfortunately, regardless the obvious need for this, Juan Mata has the huge task ahead of him of persuading players to donate money, despite there being no obligation for them to do so.