Former Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa has become the first Japanese footballer to sign with Common Goal, a growing movement in which players pledge to donate at least 1% of their wages to football charities.
In making the pledge the Japanese international, who currently plays for Borussia Dortmund in January joins Manchester United star Juan Mata, World Cup winner with Germany and Bayern Munich degender Mats Hummels, Hoffenheim's Serge Gnabry and Dennis Aogo VfB Stuttgart, who have all joined the movement from the Bundesliga since its launch in August.
The announcement comes just three days after Common Goal unveiled its first South American player Nicole Regneir (Colombia) and its first African player Jean Sseninde (Uganda).
Kagawa has become the first Asian to commit to Common Goal, the initiative that now boasts players spanning six continents. "I'm really excited to announce to you today that I've joined Juan Mata on the Common Goal team," said Kagawa in a video shared over social media.
"Football has given me so many opportunities in life and now I want to play my role in supporting others through the game. Common Goal is quickly growing around the world and I'm proud to help lead the movement forward in Japan."
Kagawa, whose professional career kicked off at Cerezo Osaka as a 17 year-old, said the global passion for football was part of what drove him to make the pledge. "I've been fortunate enough to have football lead me all over the world - Japan, England, South Africa, Brazil and of course Germany, to name just a few countries," he explained.
"If there's one constant I've witnessed throughout the journey it has to be passion. Football inspires and excites people like nothing else on the planet, and what I love about Common Goal is that it channels this passion in a way that makes a real difference to disadvantaged communities around the world."
Mata, who played alongside Kagawa at United in 2014, said it was only fitting that the 28 year-old became the first Japanese member of the movement. "Shinji knows a thing or two about being first," Mata said.
"He was the first player from Japan to play at Manchester United and then the first to win the Premier League. So I think it's fitting that he's now the first to join Common Goal as well. I know first-hand that Shinji is a special footballer and a brilliant person. It's a great pleasure for me to welcome him to the team today."