Common Goal: 2021 Highlights

All the best moments from the movement over the past year

In 2021, while the Covid-19 pandemic continued to test communities, economies, and the entire world, solidarity, team play, and collective action shined bright.

With the addition of 87 new members to the Common Goal team, we reached a major milestone in 2021, as the movement surpassed 200 members.

This year's additions ranged from veteran players, to teenage rising stars, to sport psychologists, and highlighted how Common Goal continues to grow into a movement representative of the entire football industry.

Sports-streaming-platform DAZN and adidas became impact sponsors of the movement, and in doing so united behind using the beautiful game to change the world.

There were also important and impactful steps towards making the game, and world around it, more inclusive and equitable, with the launch of the Anti-Racist Project, and the Global Goal 5 Accelerator’s Latin American chapter, SOMOS Equidad (we are equity).

The movement’s fourth anniversary was marked by the launch of a Common Goal jersey, with the money raised by shirts purchased via Common Goal channels invested directly into football-based projects.

In a year that challenged so many it was a reminder that social change, like football, is a team game.

Here are the Common Goal 2021 highlights.

January: Stories from around the world

With Covid-19 continuing through the New Year, in January we heard how Common Ground is helping young people cope with the effects of the global pandemic.

The start of the year welcomed six new members to the Common Goal movement, including two brothers, a first member from Russia, and even a sustainable sportswear company.

We travelled from sunny Salamanca to Birmingham in Blighty, to hear from the first Spanish club to join the movement and how Street League is helping end youth unemployment through football.

International Day of Education brought the stories of six football-based community organisations using the beautiful game to help educate marginalised young people in their communities.

Wrapping up a busy start to the year, was the founding story of Yuwa in India and the month was wrapped up in Rwanda where we travelled back to 1994 to learn how football helped heal a broken nation in the aftermath of genocide.

February: Common Goal launches Anti-Racist Project

Common Goal and a diverse coalition of leaders from the U.S. football industry launched the Anti-Racist project in February to tackle systemic racism in both football and society.

The project will train 5,000 coaches, 60,000 young people, and 115 staff in more than 400 communities in the first year.

February saw new 1% pledgers in Sebastian Rode, Matti Steinmann, and Daphne Corboz — and even welcomed a sports communications agency in the form of Pedro Pinto’s Empower Sports to the team.

Finally, we (virtually) travelled all the way to South Africa to hear the story of Mpumi Nkosi, whose life has changed through football.

March: Celebrating women from history and those making it

The month of International Woman’s Day saw female voices take centre stage in and around the movement.

Everton and England's Izzy Christiansen met with Pauline Msungu, a young leader and coach at Society Empowerment Project (SEP) in Kenya, and a player herself for the Kenyan Women's National Team to discussed their journeys.

On International Women’s Day, we heard from four Common Goals female members in an Observer feature where they discussed why female footballers give back and what needs to change as the game continues to grow.

For International Day for the Elimination of Racial discrimination, we highlighted six of the many organisations around the world who are using football to combat racism in their communities.

Rounding up another busy month we revisited the story of Emma Clarke, Britain’s first known black female footballer, heard from the young leader at FundLife Bernard Basas in the Philippines, and saw four new members take the 1% pledge.

April: Common Goal members denounce European Super League

In response to a potential European Super League, Common Goal members were among the many to condemn the plans, highlighting once again beautiful game’s power to incite social change when it unites.

“I don’t run away when there are problems, I never did that,” said Jürgen Klopp.

In April, we also welcomed three new members to the movement including football agent Stephanie Molina who noted: "It felt like joining something strong and beautiful. That’s what the Common Goal community is.”

Over in Zambia we heard how, after losing his mother at a young age, Sport in Action's football programmes at the Fountain of Hope orphanage gave Steven Siame hope of a better life.

To finish the month, we revisited the story of Football vs Apartheid to mark South African Freedom Day.

May: A season like no other comes to an end

In the football calendar’s most decisive period, May was no less eventful for Common Goal.

We heard from Aydel, a KICKFAIR youth leader, about his role in the ‘Common Ground’ project and celebrated KICKFAIR for winning the Sport for Good award.

The incredible stories of Seema Kumari from YUWA in India and Nha Nha from ISF Cambodia, reminded us how the beautiful game can change lives.

We visited the Covid-19 response fund one year on and Common Goal embarked on a new project alongside USL clubs to create safe and inclusive spaces for LGBTQ+ athletes.

Rounding up the busy month, we welcomed three players and two sports psychologists to the movement.

June: Celebrating pride month through football

Pride Month saw Common Goal celebrate the LGBTQ+ community as part of our ongoing pursuit to make the grassroots football organisations, programmes, and communities around the world more inclusive.

We highlighted how, along with our Common Goal partner community organisations, we are helping to create more inclusive environments for young LGBTQ+ people through the Play Proud project.

Several new members joined the team including Chilean national and PSG keeper Christiane Endler, and we saw Chicago House AC make the 1% pledge – bringing our total number of professional clubs to four.

June also gave us the stories of the trials and tribulations befalling our partners in India due to the coronavirus and the inspiring story of Aya, a young participant at Common Goal partner organisation Palestine Sports for Life.

July: adidas makes the 1% pledge

In July, based on a shared ambition to maximise football’s contribution towards a more equitable and inclusive world, adidas pledged 1% of its global net sales from footballs to Common Goal until 2023 to drive positive social change through the world's most popular sport.

The partnership’s aim is to directly impact 90,000 lives through a series of projects tackling systemic racism, promoting LGBTQ+ inclusion, fostering mental health, and accelerating gender equality.

Following this announcement, Manchester United player, adidas athlete, and Co-Founder of Common Goal Juan Mata discussed the partnership with Sky Sports.

"I am happy for Common Goal, adidas and myself. But more importantly, I am happy for the many people who will benefit from this partnership. We can be proud of what we are doing and this is just the beginning,” he said.

Mainz 05 manager Bo Svensson joined the movement, making him the fourth coach in the Bundesliga to make the 1% pledge.

July also gave us the chance to hear from our friends at SARI, revisit the ‘Immortal Eleven’, and celebrate World Youth Skills Day.

August: 200 members strong

The movement celebrated its fourth anniversary in August with the launch of a jersey fit for social change.

From using football to power gender equality, fight racism, promote LGBTQ+ inclusion, and create peaceful and inclusive communities, all funds from shirts purchased via Common Goal channels were directly invested into football-based projects.

In another huge milestone for the movement, Collin Martin, Jess Silva, Fredi Bobic, and Libby Copus-Brown all took the 1% pledge and in doing so the team surpassed 200 members.

Martin, the first active openly male gay athlete to play in any top division professional men’s national football leagues said: “I decided to join because speaking about the change you want to see in sport is ultimately not enough.”

“I'm pledging 1% of my salary to the Play Proud project because I know how much of an influence a coach can have in a team setting.”

To round up a month full of milestones, Common Goal teamed up with 11 football-based partner organisations to launch Playing for Peace — a project that seeks to strengthen the position of young people in decision-making processes and influence peaceful conflict resolution towards the creation of peaceful, inclusive societies.

September: DAZN joins the movement

In a move to jointly tackle some of the most vital social issues of our time, DAZN became an impact sponsor of the movement.

“Common Goal exists to unite the global football industry and tackle the greatest social challenges of our time, and we are committed to working hand in hand with them to change the game together,” said James Rushton, Co-CEO of DAZN.

Wolfsburg’s Maximillian Philipp, Pia-Sophie Wolter, and Pauline Bremer meet with KICKFAIR’s young ballers to discuss their football journeys and to find out first-hand how football is helping empower young people.

At the World Football Summit, we heard from leaders across the industry and celebrated ISF Cambodia, as they were shortlisted for the summit’s award.

In the US, we saw how Street Soccer USA’s work in Los Angeles inspired a pair of Kylian Mbappé’s boots, and in South Africa we heard how Altus Sport, the Play Proud project, and the beautiful game helped Christina learn to love herself.

On International Day of Democracy, we honoured Sócrates for his efforts to oppose military dictatorship and aid Brazil’s fight for democracy.

At the start of the Barclays FA WSL season, we highlighted Common Goal members poised to make an impact on and off the pitch and rounded up the month welcoming three new members to the movement.

October: Football uniting the world

October shined light on the power of solidarity and team play.

Following racist abuse of Napoli players from Fiorentina fans, Giorgio Chiellini spoke out in support of his teammates and condemned the bigotry.

Three new members joined the movement, and in Scotland, our partner organisation Denis Law Legacy Trust invited young Afghans on the pitch and welcomed them into their community.

Told ‘she couldn’t’ so often, we also heard how our friend Rupa at the OSCAR Foundation has overcome obstacles and discovered a new world of possibilities.

And, for International Day of the Girl Child, we looked into how the Global Goal 5 Accelerator is enabling girls to dream big.

November: Gender equality project launches in Latin America

The Global Goal 5 Accelerator’s second phase, SOMOS Equidad (we are equity), launched on 16th November. The project not only seeks to empower girls on the pitch but also aims to break down societal mechanisms that contribute to gender inequalities at large. 

The penultimate month saw Vivianne Miedema and Lisa Evans, who are partners on and off the pitch, take the 1% pledge. We also welcomed the movement’s first Romanians in Ianis Hagi and Tudor Băluță, as well as Adrian Gonzalez who joined at just 17 years old.

The Ballon d’Or highlighted the movement’s top quality on and off the pitch as Common Goal members made up 30% of the women’s shortlist, and one of our longest-standing members, Giorgio Chiellini, made the cut on the men’s nominees.

Fathime at our partner organisation Moving the Goalpost, opened up about the challenges girls face in Kenya, and Bo Svensson and coaches from FundLife International sat down to talk about their coaching journeys.

December: Rounding up the year strong

Before 2021 wrapped up, three new members joined the team in André Onana, Danielle Carter, and Yanara Aedo.

We saw ten Common Goal members make the Guardian’s 100 best female footballers of 2021, showing once again the depth of the team on and off the pitch.

And, as we rounded up another inspiring year, the ever-growing Common Goal community convened to discuss the movement’s achievements and goals going forward.

With more 150 organisations in over 90 countries, this gathering provided a unique opportunity to hear from the many diverse voices in the football for good sector.