The “queen” of football, the Brazilian Marta, still does not have a crown. And getting it in the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand does not look easy, even for this woman used to milestones and struggles.
The ’10’ of the ‘Seleção’, considered the best footballer in history, will face her sixth and last World Cup (July 20-August 20) at the age of 37 and after overcoming the worst injury of her career.
She will do it with the unknown of whether she will start and as the only great reference in Brazil, after the absence of two other legends: the midfielder Formiga, retired from the national team, and the attacker Cristiane, marginalized by the Swedish coach Pia Sundhage.
The historic World Cup goalscorer (17 goals, one more than the German Miroslav Klose) will have to lead a renewed and collectively strengthened team, but which, due to the power of rivals such as the United States, Germany or Sweden, is not a favorite party to embroider their elusive first star.
“She’s probably not as fast as before, she’s not dominating the game like she was at the 2008 Olympics, but she’s very important just by her presence,” Sundhage said.
It will not be, however, the first time that Marta Vieira da Silva, Brazil’s top scorer, with 122 goals in 186 games, more than the 77 goals scored by Pelé and Neymar, will run with the wind in her face.
A LIFE OF STRUGGLE
In her native Dois Riachos, in the state of Alagoas, in Brazil’s impoverished northeast, she was told as a child that “it was not normal” for a girl to play soccer.
Some neighbors asked her mother, who was rarely present at home due to her multiple jobs to support four children alone, to prevent her from practicing this “macho” sport.
Some coaches even preferred to withdraw their coaches from competitions rather than allow them to face a woman.
“She dodged everyone, from one side to the other, backwards, forwards. It seemed like she was flying,” recalled the exporter Meg, her partner when she arrived at Vasco da Gama in Rio de Janeiro at the age of 14, to the Dibradoras portal.
At that time, few imagined that this young woman crazy about football would become one of the global faces of the most popular sport, with six awards for the best player, just behind the Argentine Lionel Messi (7) and surpassing the Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo (5). .
The street trials and the men’s uniforms that hung down her tiny body ended up forging the spirit of overcoming who ‘O rei’, a three-time world champion with the ‘Seleção’, called the “Pelé in skirts”.
“Cry at the beginning to smile at the end,” he said after the elimination in the round of 16 (2-1) against hosts France in the 2019 World Cup, where he surpassed Klose as top scorer.
With the French, Jamaica and Panama will share Group F in Australia and New Zealand.
STANDARD BEARER OF EQUALITY
Her recognition is often tied to her success with her national team, but Marta has also made a name for herself at the club level, even winning a European Women’s Champions League with Sweden’s Umea in 2004, months after playing her first World Cup. , at 17 years old.
Then she returned to her homeland, to Pelé’s Santos, where she won the first Women’s Copa Libertadores, in 2009. And then she settled and triumphed in the United States.
His walk with the ‘Canarinha’ has had more polka dots than his individual record, with three lost finals: the World Cup in China-2007 and the Olympic Games in Athens-2004 and Beijing-2008.
Although he won three Copa Américas (2003, 2010, 2018), he was absent from the most recent one, won by his teammates in Colombia in 2022, due to a ligament injury in his right knee suffered in his eleven, Orlando Pride (USA), that kept her away from the fields for almost a year.
“It’s the first time I’ve been away for so long. I suffered a lot,” he said while giving an assist on his return to the pitch, in February, in Brazil’s 1-0 victory against Japan in the SheBelieves Cup.
By the time he had already established himself as an activist for gender equality, a role he played like never before in the 2019 Cup.
In Gallic lands, she also asked her colleagues for more commitment to be up to the task when she, Formiga and Cristiane no longer dress in ‘yellow-green’.
Since that tournament, he has used boots without sponsorships from sports brands, to raise awareness about the difference in what they offer to men and women.
“We have to keep fighting,” said the most famous woman to carry a ’10’ on her back.