SEATTLE, Washington — Football, or soccer in America, is one of the most beloved games around the world. While footballers are known for their high-income wages, many footballers give back by donating large amounts of their salary and time to charity organizations. Keep reading to learn more about how five footballers give back to those who need it.
5 Footballers Give Back Using Their Fame And Money
- Mohamed Salah: Considered to be one of the world’s best players, Mohamed Salah doesn’t disappoint on or off the field. As a forward for the Premier League club Liverpool and Egypt’s national team, he frequently donates to charities. For example, after a terrorist attack at the National Cancer Institute in Egypt, Salah pledged to give $3 million to restore its facilities. In 2016, he also donated 5 million Egyptian pounds to the Tahya Masr Fund along with five acres of land to establish a sewage station and allow for clean water in his local village.
Salah is also the first ambassador for Instant Network Schools, a program created by Vodafone Foundation and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR]. The initiative will give young refugees access to digital learning content to improve the quality of education in Africa’s marginalized communities. The program has already helped more than 1,000 teachers and 86,500 students. By 2025, The network plans to have 255 new Instant Network Schools open. Additionally, Salah plans to visit those schools to raise awareness about the importance of quality education for refugees.
- Mesut Ozil: Ozil is a German professional footballer who is an attacking midfielder for the Premier League club Arsenal. While he is one of Arsenal’s highest-earning players, he explains that he is fortunate and that he uses that privilege to help others. He is an ambassador for the Rays of Sunshine children’s charity, helping to improve the lives of children suffering from illnesses in the UK. Ozil promised on his wedding day to finance 1,000 operations for underprivileged kids across the globe. His wedding gift also included feeding 100,000 homeless people at 16 refugee camps and shelters throughout Turkey and Syria. Finally, in 2014, he donated World Cup winnings to fund surgery for 23 Brazilian children in partnership with BigShoe charity.
- Héctor Bellerín: Bellerín plays as a right-back for the Premier League club Arsenal and Spain’s national team. He serves as an ambassador for the Heart4More Foundation that raises awareness around cardiac health through educational workshops. In March 2020, Bellerín helped raise £100,000 to help fight coronavirus. He has also partnered with the global charity, One Tree Planted. He pledged to plant 3,000 trees for every game Arsenal had won for the remainder of the season. When speaking with One Tree Planted about his passion for sustainability, Bellerín says, “As a child growing up in Barcelona, I spent a lot of my with my grandad in his garden planting trees and playing in forests so it’s an issue very close to my heart.”
- Wilfried Zaha: A forward for the Premier League club Crystal Palace, Wilfried Zaha donates 10% of his monthly salary to charity. He also donates heavily to his sister’s orphanage, Tomorrow’s Hope. The orphanage, based in the Ivory Coast, helps provide shelter, education and a positive environment for orphans. Additionally, Zaha has created the Zaha Foundation to help kids build football skills in the UK and the Ivory Coast. Growing up as one of nine siblings in Africa, he acknowledges the importance of giving back having come from humble beginnings himself. He states, “I know what it’s like to come from nothing and not have any handouts, so I hope that what I’m doing is putting a smile on some people’s faces.”
- Juan Mata: The final footballer giving back is Mata, Spanish midfielder for the Premier League club Manchester United and Spain’s national team. In 2017, Mata launched his charitable campaign, Common Goal, alongside Jurgen Griesbeck and Thomas Preiss. Since its start, 122 players and managers have been recruited. All 122 have agreed to give 1% of their monthly salary to charity. Common Goal works to donate money to non-governmental organizations such as SportForLifeUK, the Cameroon Football Development Program and the One World Play Project to empower young people through sports and education.
These five footballers give back to those in need by using their fame and money to make a difference. Many of them know the struggle of not having much and, therefore, attempt to help others in similar situations. Their philanthropic efforts continue to improve the lives of children around the globe. They show just how important it is for people to use their privilege to help the less fortunate.
– Erica Fealtman