Books | Born in ‘invisible town,’ Marta gains life in visible ink

“Not only have we changed ourselves, we have also transformed the way Brazilians see women’s football,” Marta writes on her website about the impact of winning the championship medal—Brazil’s second straight Pan Am gold—at the Maracanã.

Impressions of her own feet have been taken for the Maracanã’s walk of fame. After the Pan Am Games, domestic football authorities launched the Copa do Brasil de Futebol Feminino. Mato Grosso do Sul in Dec 07 won the first competition in penalties over Botucatu of São Paulo. The Brazilian women’s game now has a dedicated blog.

Graciano feels there is a “strong possibility” that Marta will play in the United States with the new Women’s Professional Soccer league. Her national-team coach, Jorge Barcellos, has been appointed coach in St. Louis. Previously, Marta had been linked to FC Indiana (see 18 Jul 08) and to LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer, although the source of the latter rumors, in fall 07, is unclear. A columnist at the Toronto Star made a pitch for her joining that city’s struggling expansion team. Marta’s contract with Umeå runs through the 2008 season.

As to Marta’s long-term impact on women’s sport in the world’s fifth-largest country, Graciano acknowledges the existence already of “other Martas” who draw inspiration from “the queen”—the moniker that seemed suitable even four years ago on Graciano’s pilgrimage to Marta’s home in the Sertão.

At the end of the book, Graciano quotes from Neruda’s “La reina”:

And when you appear

all the rivers sound

in my body, bells

shake the sky

and a hymn fills the world.


Swedish newspaper Expressen reports on 6 Jan 09 that Marta will leave Umeå for a three-year deal at Los Angeles Sol (Av Mats Bråstedt, “ ‘Marta klar för Los Angeles’ ”). Translating the Swedish, Damallsvenskan Newsblog says the contract is worth roughly $500,000 per year (7 Jan 09). Farah rebuffed Umeå’s attempt to re-sign Mata—who has been having a holiday in Brazil before the FIFA World Player Gala on Jan 12—as well as an approach from Damallsvenskan side Malmö, according to the blog’s trolling of other news sources.

Translating an article in Västerbottenskuriren, the blog quotes Farah’s statements “that Umeå hasn’t fulfilled their obligations to Marta. The club owes Marta for unpaid bonuses, he says, and there can be no negotiations until this is settled.” Umeå general manager Britta Åkerlund said she was unaware of the dispute.

Los Angeles of Women’s Professional Soccer, scheduled to play the Washington Freedom Mar 29 in the league’s inaugural game, selected Marta in an international draft on 24 Sept 08. She was the third pick overall. WPS teams also claimed rights to Brazilians Formiga and Erika (Bay Area), Daniela and Renata Costa (St. Louis), Cristiane (Chicago), Fabiana and Maycon (Boston), Rosana and Ester (Sky Blue FC).

“The draft does not reflect any intent or commitment on the player’s behalf to sign with this team or that any offer has been made to the player,” the WPS website said at the time. “Rather, it signifies the beginning of the process by which each team will move forward according to the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players.”

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5 comments on this post.
  1. Lloyd E. Elling:

    Can we purchase this book in English? Marta needs to play professionally in the USA! She will awaken another 100,000 girls to play soccer.

    We need connections to bring Brazilian girls’ teams to the USA and USA teams to Brazil.

    I am the coach of a team called the Chicas United U-10. We want to dance with Marta’s little sisters of soccer.

  2. John Turnbull:

    At present, the book has only limited availability in Brazil. But such expressions of interest in seeing an English version will only help in making that happen.

    I agree that women’s soccer would be an excellent means of exchange between the two countries and would like to see the US and Brazil women’s national teams, of all age groups, have an annual series of home-and-home exhibitions.

  3. Trish:

    A version in English would be wonderful. Marta has many young fans here in the US thanks to the Olympics and the World Cup being televised. She needs all the support we can offer. Brazil is where we were in the ’70s—I am a product of the grassroots efforts of promoting women’s soccer here in the US.

    I’m a bit over 40 now and a group of us still get together twice a year to play in league and tournament play. To think of where we started, having to fight for elbow room with the boys. [In Brazil] they have an ever harder battle I think overcoming stereotypes—and what a women’s “role” in their culture should be.

    Regardless, I’m certain there are thousands of little girls down there with dreams to be just like “Marta”—let’s continue to show our support.

  4. The Global Game | Brazil | Marta’s story deserves to be told, but who deserves to tell it?:

    [...] in promoting his biography of sensational 22-year-old Marta Vieira da Silva (see earlier articles, Sept 15 and 12 Sept [...]

  5. The Global Game | Sweden | Northern latitudes helped make Marta a player of Sol importance:

    [...] Umeå,” writes Marta biographer Diego Graciano (see 15 Sept 08), the summers are replete with light. But in winters, the rigors are stark, nothing but snow and [...]

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