Bayern Munich ace Mats Hummels signed up to join Manchester United’s Spanish midfielder by pledging one per cent of his wages to a charity that supports global football initiatives for disadvantaged children.
Hummels did not know Mata previously, but was inspired by his call to join in signing up to support Common Goal and make football “a tool for change”.
Sadly, although there has been interest shown from other stars in the Premier League, Germany-based Common Goal confirmed yesterday that they’ve not exactly been inundated with players over here begging them to take a small slice of their salary.
It’s a shame, in more ways than one.
As Common Goal’s Andrew Erlanger points out, one per cent is not exactly a huge loss for such high-earners.
And because of the high-profile, god-like status of players they could very much lead by example – and make millions of fans potentially think about, and step up, their own charitable contributions.
This column has constantly bemoaned the lack of a single massive charity appeal – to rival the likes of Comic Relief and Children in Need – in the game of football.
Simple ideas mooted here include every player giving up a match fee one weekend a season.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon, Borussia Dortmund)
But Mata’s proposal topped that.
With most Premier League stars now being paid so much money, losing one per cent of their wages would be a drop in the ocean.
Yet so far not one top-flight star from United or elsewhere in the Premier League has joined Mata.
Does not one English star think it’s a fabulous idea? Is there not one agent who sees it as an excellent way to raise the reputation of their client?
While the Mata announcement made some headlines briefly earlier this month, the biggest ones have been about Neymar’s £198m move to Paris St-Germain, right-back Kyle Walker moving to Manchester City for £54m, his former Tottenham team-mate Danny Rose not being paid “what he’s worth” and Arsenal striker Alexis Sanchez turning up his nose at £300,000-a-week.
They are just four of the numerous money-driven stories that have seen football continue to lose whatever little charm it had left and leave a bad taste in the mouth.
Yes, as opening weekend showed the games on the pitch are still exciting.
But off it the mantra from the 1987 film Wall Street that “greed is good” seems to be taking over the game and it’s the punters who pay for player’s excesses.
THE money madness in the Premier League shows no sign of abating, but you only have to look at Aston Villa to see how miserable life can be outside of the Promised Land.
Villa have been in decline since previous owner Randy Lerner started to lose interest and Martin O’Neill walked away in 2010.
Now the club who won the top flight title and FA Cup seven times each and were European champions in 1982 are struggling terribly in the Championship.
They also have immensely passionate fans – as trips to Villa Park have shown me – with more than 31,000 turning up to see their first league game of the season against Hull.
Despite starting as favourites to finish top, they are currently second bottom with just a point from their three games.
Right now every team in the Premier League acts as if the cash cow can continue to be milked for year after year.
But Villa’s fall is just the latest example of what can wrong.
A decade after the financial markets crashed, you can’t help but fear football is going the same the sad, mad way when it comes to spending.