File under ‘aesthetics’ | 5 epiphanic goals from Marta Vieira da Silva

Marta plants five on Canada at the Maracanã, Jul 20. She creates another goal in the 7–0 victory. See also the video report from Globo Sports, “Marta comanda goleada brasileira sobre canadenses no Pan.”

Normally we do not post goal videos, but that these are goals by a woman—albeit one of the world’s best-known players, Marta Vieira da Silva of Dois Riachos, Brazil (see 28 Dec 06)—and that they were scored at a “lesser” football competition, the 15th Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, means that otherwise they will rapidly fade into obscurity, as if they had never happened.

“She’s a sneaky, sneaky player,” said Canada defender Martina Franko (quoted in James Christie, “Marta the Magnificent Dismantles Canadians,” Toronto Globe and Mail, Jul 21). “I was pulling her shirt, pulling her back. … What else do you do? I’ve never played anybody as fast as her. I’ve never seen anyone who runs as fast as you, then as soon as she touches the ball, gets faster.”

The arrhythmic, blurred quality resulting from the video transfer—or from our dodgy broadband connection—calls to mind the streaking figure of Pelé, striding the turf at Estadio Jalisco in Guadalajara during the 1970 World Cup semifinal, as pictured on the cover of artist Robert Davies‘s collection 90 Minutes: The Greatest Moments from the World Cup. Davies culled from frames from 17 World Cup finals films to find “epiphanies”: “a detail from a crucial passage of play and … imprinted on our collective memory.”

The collective memory cannot be created if such moments are never seen; thus, the more times the 21-year-old FIFA player of the year can be appreciated in broken gallop across midfield, the closer Marta comes to art?

Alcide Ghiggia, Eusebio, Johan Cruyff,
Sócrates, Dennis Bergkamp, Andrés
and others feature among
Davies’s creations.

The dominant Brazilian team mowed down Pan American opposition by a combined 33–0, with Marta scoring 12 times. Brazil defeated an U-20 team from the United States 5–0 in the gold-medal match on Jul 26. A crowd of 67,788 watched in the Maracanã, a record for women’s football outside North America. “I didn’t see Pelé, but I saw Marta,” read one supporter’s sign.

“We showed to the country what women’s soccer can do, what potential it has,” said Marta in a post-match press conference, sometimes speaking through tears as she alluded to a national program that has been idle for nearly three years (Philip Hersh, “A Thrill for Brazil,” Los Angeles Times, Jul 27). “Of course there is prejudice [in Brazil], and that makes things much more difficult for women, not only in soccer but many other sports. We are trying to find our place. I hope this means there will be more Martas and Formigas in the future. They want to play, but we need to have much better structures established for women’s soccer in Brazil.”


Already her footprints have been preserved in cement at Estádio Rei Pelé in her native Alagoas. At the suggestion of a reporter from O Globo, Eduardo Paes, Rio’s State Secretary of Tourism, Sports and Leisure, confirmed that Marta would become the first woman as well as the youngest athlete to be recognized with a spot in the Calçada da Fama do Maracanã (Walk of Fame) (Allan Caldas, “Marta entrará para a Calçada da Fama do Maracanã; Brasil pega os EUA na final,” O Globo, Jul 25).

“We will leave her definitive mark at the Maracanã,” said Paes. “Undoubtedly, she deserves to be there, among so many stars.”

Imprints of her feet were taken following the gold-medal game on Jul 26.


We extend gratitude for the video link to Frauenfußball-Blog auf Ballhöhe.

About the Author

John Turnbull founded The Global Game in 2003. He was lead editor for The Global Game: Writers on Soccer (University of Nebraska Press, 2008) and has also written on soccer for Afriche e Orienti (Bologna, Italy), the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the New York Times Goal blog, Soccer and Society, So Foot (Paris) and When Saturday Comes. His essay "Alone in the Woods: The Literary Landscape of Soccer's 'Last Defender' " in World Literature Today was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Also for World Literature Today he edited a special section on women's soccer, "World Cup/World Lit 2011," before the Women's World Cup in Germany. The section appeared in the May-June issue. His next project is a book on soccer and faith.

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