November 5 – Former Fulham, Manchester United and France striker Louis Saha has called on former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo to engage with the sport integrity movement and use his profile to drive meaningful change across football from grassroots to boardroom.
Speaking to a group of SIGA’s Global Media Partners he said that athletes must step up and take an active role in the future of the sport and “to really use their education, their knowledge, their actual experiences, good or bad, to highlight the things that need to be improved. Integrity in our sport has been tarnished in so many ways.”
Saha is a SIGA (Sport Integrity Global Alliance) Champion, as well as a SIGA EUROPE Advisory Board member. Since finishing his playing career Saha has founded his own company Axis Stars which connect athletes and entertainers to commercial opportunities. For footballers it is essentially about opening up more opportunities post their playing careers. Saha says that the sport integrity is central to their philosophy.
“As athletes, we are the biggest Ambassadors of our sports. If we don’t know how the mechanics of this industry works, we can’t change anything,” said Saha.
The invitation to Ronaldo to join SIGA is not a headline gesture. Saha played 124 games with Ronaldo and while admiring his brilliance on the field, respects his commitment to being the best and his love of the game. A game whose integrity Saha says needs to be protected.
There is also a sense of responsibility that emanates from Saha and it is that which he feels will resonate with Ronaldo.
“We need to change the mentality and I feel, as I’m starting individually as an entrepreneur, it made sense to partner with SIGA… I really want to change things and put sport’s values at the top,” said Saha.
Saha recognises that Ronaldo does make a positive impact but believes that he could do more on a deeper level.
“When you look at the most influential athletes in the world, that’s Cristiano Ronaldo. That’s not only about football. Lots of people are watching how he lives, his nutrition or how he respects family. He is the best role model you can imagine…,” said Saha.
“So, he is an amazing ambassador and I hope one day he can join SIGA in some way, to bring more integrity to sport. The aim for anyone who reaches his level is to have an impact in this world. And I think our agenda has so much potential that I hope one day everyone around him can advise him to do more impactful things. He’s doing it, but I think he can do way much more.”
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