‘Do other Martas exist?’ | In ‘machista’ Brazilian culture, one cannot be sure

DG: The biography is finished. I began to write it in April 2004 when Marta was not even known in Brazil. In December of that year we met for the first time, and Marta was glad and grateful to see somebody from the Brazilian press—she was and is very popular in Europe and the USA—interested in her life and willing to tell her story. I felt honored to share one week in her Dois Riachos, the extremely poor place where she was born, due to the reception of the people there and her own family. This intense stay surpassed my professional and human expectations. I have interviewed stars like Mia Hamm, April Heinrichs and Hanna Ljungberg, among other personalities of the sport, [for their opinions on Marta]. There have been almost 70 interviews. I went across Brazil to reconstruct her story, and I have around 300 photos of her life never published. In spite of the Pan American Games and the success, there is not much interest from Brazilian publishers in having her life in their collections.

GG: Pictures on your website show you interviewing Marta in Dois Riachos in the Sertão in 2004. Have you been in regular contact with Marta, and is there interest in the Brazilian media in Marta as a personality?

DG: I have personally interviewed Marta in Dois Riachos, Rio de Janeiro, Chile and many other times by telephone and via e-mail. For several years the media has ignored Marta and female soccer. Brazil is the country of the soccer of the Ronaldos, Robinho, Romario, Zico, Kaká and so on. After the latest Rio Pan American Games (from now on referred to as “Pan”), the media took advantage of that glory to publicize, in a small way, an activity that was despised until that time.

GG: What have you learned further about a women’s football league in Brazil? Will it be fully professional? Will it be affiliated to teams in the first division: Vasco, Flamengo, Fluminense, Botafogo, São Paulo and so on?

DG: The kickoff for a national league in Brazil has always ended up in promises, no facts. Now they say again that it will become reality in 2008. For the time being female soccer players need to work somewhere else to survive, in addition to being marginalized in a culture that is male-oriented (“machista”) by nature. Some traditional clubs have too many problems with their male teams at the moment, which makes it more difficult to invest in (or just to think of) the female option. In spite of the difficult scenario, the Brazilian female soccer team leads the Latin America rankings and is among the highest positions in the world rankings. Just imagine what would happen if those ladies were encouraged [with their own league].

GG: What is the importance of the recent Pan American Games championship for (1) the confidence of the Brazilian women’s team and (2) for the development of women’s football in Brazil?

DG: A clear perception you can have about the Brazilian female team is of the “individualistic” spirit whenever Brazil plays any international competition. Each one of them needs to be seen by the world; each is “fighting” for her own possible transfer to other countries where they can be respected and valued. Without any real economic compensation, the most important aspect for them (during the Pan) was the approval from that public that—leaving aside some ancestral paradigms against female and football—was there to support and to start to appreciate their quality. In Brazil there is an intense search for new talents and, without doubt, there would appear to be some other Pretinhas, Formigas, Cristianes, Danielas … but do other Martas exist? In the same way, we know that there is not another Pelé or another Maradona.

GG: Marta had a stunning performance in the Pan Am Games, appearing before large crowds in the Maracanã and having her footprints taken for the walk of fame. How large an impact has Marta had personally on the consciousness of the Brazilian football fan?

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