Mata receives UEFA Award

Juan Mata wins UEFA Equal Game Award for Common Goal membership

Juan Mata has called on his fellow professionals to join Common Goal after accepting the UEFA Equal Game award for his long-standing membership of the movement.

The Manchester United midfielder was the first player to take the 1% pledge back in 2017 and has been a prominent voice for the movement since its inception.

That commitment has been recognized by UEFA in the 2021 Equal Games Awards – though Mata was quick to stress the importance of the collective in driving social change.

“I am really pleased to receive this UEFA Equal Game Award on behalf of every single member of Common Goal,” he said.

“I want to thank UEFA for acknowledging the work that we are doing with the movement and especially to UEFA President and fellow Common Goal member Aleksander Ceferin for his personal commitment to the movement.

“I also want to emphasise the importance of team effort and our collective approach in order to try and maximize the potential of football to tackle the many challenges that society is facing nowadays.

“And I want to encourage everyone that is part of the professional football industry to join the Common Goal movement to try to create better conditions for people around the world.”

As part of his membership of Common Goal Mata visiting Impact Organisation OSCAR Foundation in India to see first-hand the work being done on the ground.

And it was this trip that helped solidified his belief in the work that organisations are doing around the world to drive change through football.

“I have been lucky enough to go and see first-hand the amazing work that the organisations that we work with do,” he added.

“The warmth and welcome they gave us, it was an incredibly happy moment. But also it was sad to see how many people in this world still have to live under very, very difficult conditions.

“So I was proud of the work that the organisations are doing and proud of the stories of people that have overcome difficult problems and they have been lucky enough to empower themselves.

“That’s what we want to do through Common Goal. To give people a choice to decide their futures.

“It has improved and developed me as a person. I always say the same thing, football is a great sport but it is also much more than that.”

Mata’s Common Goal teammate Khalida Popal was also one of three to receive an award for her work in fighting gender stereotypes and empowering girls, women, and minority communities through sport.