Marta’s football dominance is unmatched
“The game changed” is a Emox News series dedicated to women who are often overlooked, underrated, or simply deserve more flowers for their contributions to women’s sports history.
Here’s a strange question. Is it … fitting that Marta has never won the World Cup or the Olympic Games, the two biggest women’s football trophies on offer?
It’s not that she isn’t the greatest player of all time without these honors, nor does it minimize her skillful mix of technical and physical skills.
Rather, it means that there is still something out there to fight for. And if there is one thing that Marta Vieira da Silva knows, it is she’s fighting for something.
She reminded us of Brazil’s loss to France at the 2019 Women’s World Cup when she took command of her post-game interview, looked straight into the camera and spoke to the next generation of Brazil.
“It wants more. It trains more. It takes more care of yourself,” encouraged Marta. “It’s ready to play 90 plus 30 minutes. That’s what I ask of the girls.
“There will not be a Formiga forever. There will not be a Marta forever. There will be no Cristiane. The women’s game depends on you to survive. So think about it. Appreciate it more. Cry at the beginning so that you can smile at the end. “
Marta checked out fellow legend Cristiane and Formiga, who in 2017 after “years of disrespect and lack of support” led a player uprising against the Brazilian federation that culminated in the sacking of Emily Lima, the first coach in program history.
She hasn’t left the squad beside her – instead, she asked to rejoin a united front, which they ultimately did a few months later – but Marta’s influence in tackling inequality in Brazilian football is beyond reproach.
Marta’s football dominance is unmatched
As a child, she came across it right away. There were no girls’ teams in her hometown of Dois Riachos. There weren’t many girls playing at all as the government didn’t allow them to do so from 1941 to 1979. So she played with the boys and was discovered by the Rio-based Vasco da Gama club when she was 14. “Just get on the bus,” Marta later pleaded with her younger self, deciding whether to stay home or travel about 1,200 miles to a fresh start that is shaking through her bones.
We all know what choice she made. Marta is Brazil’s top scorer (male or female) with 109 international goals. She is also the record writer of the world championship, male or female, at 17. Pelé herself called her “Pelé in skirts”.
She has been named FIFA World Player of the Year six times, five years in a row from 2006 to 2010. During this time, she became a household name in women’s football. At the 2007 Women’s World Cup, in which Brazil brought the USA the decisive defeat in a major tournament, she was superior to all other players on the field before losing to Germany in the final.
Its brilliance fluctuated so much that the USWNT literally reoriented its approach to the 2008 Olympics to face Brazil again, choosing to play for possession rather than direct and overwhelming. The less sales, it was thought, the less chance Marta would have on the ball.
At the club level, it has won major trophies in Brazil, Sweden, and the United States, and serves as the main attraction for leagues that desperately needed one to build.
And the Brazilian association doesn’t seem any less interested in marketing them or supporting the women’s team. From the maracanã to the municipalities, there was little investment in sport. “Progress in women’s football is not possible here,” said Marta in 2014. “It’s creeping up.”
Last September, Federal President Rogerio Caboclo stated that Brazil had an equal pay agreement, but the Brazilian women have only played five games since then, two friendlies and the SheBelieves Cup in February, and there’s little way to do that To learn the truth. (The USWNT’s struggle for equal pay, for example, has been masked by various percentages and performance-based incentives, sometimes exercised in questionable beliefs.)
As always, it will be up to Marta – who has another World Cup run at 35 – and her teammates to tell us. It will be up to women in all sports until the world moves beyond necessity. Call out the inequality. To expose the rot. To keep the administrators’ feet on the fire, light one among the next generation. All while performing on the field with the same open magic that has earned them such esteem.
“There won’t be a Martha forever,” the legend said in 2019.
Unless there is already.