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“Nothing matches the power of football”

Juan Mata and Ronaldo discuss the need for football to give back

For Juan Mata and Ronaldo Nazario, the privileges afforded to them through the beautiful game go hand-in-hand with giving back.

The pair connected as part of this year’s World Football Summit and were united in their belief that football has become much more than a sport for many people around the world.

The Manchester United midfielder and the former Brazilian World Cup winner shared their own journeys to giving back through football – Mata having been a Common Goal member for almost three years and Ronaldo from his foundation Fundação Fenômenos.

“At a personal level, co-founding Common Goal has brought me satisfaction that goes beyond being a footballer,” said Mata.

“It provides me with a deeper mission that playing, scoring goals, or winning titles.”

“Ronaldo knows a lot about scoring goals and winning titles but I’m sure he’s with me in the idea that football has become much more than a sport for many people around the world.” Ronaldo, the two-time Ballon d’Or winner and now owner and president of La Liga club Real Valladolid, spoke of his willingness to give back through Fundação Fenômenos - which supports social projects aiming to improve living conditions of communities across Brazil.

“It’s in my essence, in my personality, and in my personal values to help people in need,” said Ronaldo. “Fundacao Fenomenos is just a result of that.

“COVID-19  is going to make a big impact [on not for profit organisations] because the companies that are funding organisations have suffered a big blow and we know that whenever there is a crisis the first thing they cut off are donations and advertising.

“What we have to do is find solutions, find ways of proposing new projects.

“With Fundação Fenômenos we are developing channels and platforms to try to identify where people are suffering most in Brazil and try to provide assistance.”

Mata also outlined how he has witnessed first-hand the positive impact football can have on communities all around the world.

“When we started this project I decided to visit the organisations we are working with,” said Mata.

“I visited India, Colombia and I witnessed the ability of football to drive social change in communities where boys and girls don’t have their basic needs covered.

“That’s why, on a person level, it means more to me than being a football player.”

He also spoke about how he feels players are now speaking out more regularly on social issues.

“There are a number of reasons that explain why athletes voices are becoming more influential,” he said.

“Social media is becoming a very important tool for professional footballers and athletes in general, and as we’re seeing with all the young players joining Common goal lately, players are realising that when you’re a footballer you have a very powerful platform.

“When you state your views people listen. A lot of players are starting to use that ability to reach people in the best possible way: speaking up for social causes.

“I think that is going to grow even more in the coming years.

“More players will realise the power they have to reach people because in that sense nothing matches the power of sports and football.”

WFS Live aims to contribute to the growth of the industry, but also to help those communities that have been most severely hit by coronavirus. That’s why all net proceeds from this year’s event will be donated to Fundação Fenômenos and the Common Goal COVID-19 Response Fund.