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Juan Mata caused a stir when he launched Common Goal in the summer, pledgingSBOBET to pay one per cent of his salary to charity. Adam Bate spoke to Mata's co-founder Jurgen Griesbeck to discuss their ambitious plans and discover the extraordinary inspiration behind the venture...
There is no hint of bombast. Jurgen Griesbeck is softly spoken. As a result, it takes time for the weight of the words to hit home. "You could argue that football is one of the very few movements that could inspire the idea of one humanity," says the 52-year-old German.
"Religions and political leaders actually struggle to achieve that but if we really aim for the stars this could be something beyond aligning an industry behind doing something for social good. It could be an example of how the world could and should work. It is much more than just a project."
It is two months since Juan Mata launched the SBOBET Common Goal initiative, a pledge to give one per cent of his salary to charity. He has since been joined by fellow World Cup winners Mats Hummels, Giorgio Chiellini, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe. A sixth player, Serge Gnabry, was confirmed on Thursday.
But the kernel of the idea began long ago. In Medellin, Colombia, in 1994 to be precise. It was then that Griesbeck, Common Goal's co-founder alongside Mata, was inspired to abandon his academic studies in the country to devote his life to utilising football for good.
The catalyst was the murder of AndresSBOBET Escobar, Colombia's captain at that summer's World Cup in the United States. Escobar had scored an own goal in the defeat to the United States. Six days later he was killed in a Medellin car park. Shot six times with a handgun.
"I went to university the next day and told them I would not be coming back," recalls Griesbeck, who was in the country doing a field study as part of his PhD. "I handed over my assignment and started to think about how to build a legacy out of what had happened.
"It was a bad time in Medellin. There were about 5,000 dead young people every year just in the city. I could see that football created the possibility of non-violent communication and a peaceful dialogue. From there to translate it into everyday life, that was the initial step."
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