‘The negotiation was long and difficult,’ says Farah of creating Marta’s LA story

Drawing primarily from online sources in Brazil and Sweden (links provided), the timeline summarizes some three months of negotiations over Marta Vieira da Silva‘s transfer to Los Angeles Sol. Go to main article »

Sept 24
Formiga

Marta is selected as the third player overall, behind Brazil teammate Formiga (Bay Area, right) and England’s Kelly Smith (Boston), in the Women’s Professional Soccer international draft. WPS clearly wants Marta in a top U.S. market under the aegis of a billionaire owner, AEG’s Philip Anschutz.

Nov 2 Marta’s club side since 2004, Umeå IK of the Swedish Damallsvenskan, makes its first contract offer to Marta’s agent, Fabiano Farah. The club hopes to secure the Brazilian playmaker on a multi-year deal to ease the stress, club director Britta Åkerlund says, of negotiating one-year contracts each fall.
Nov 12 Umeå IK defeats Arsenal 6–0 to advance to the UEFA Women’s Cup semifinals 8–3 on aggregate. Marta scores within 14 seconds and adds three more goals in what becomes her farewell appearance at Gammliavallen stadium.
Nov 17 Marta joins Ronaldo‘s team in a United Nations–supported charity match in Fes, Morocco, coming on as a substitute and contributing an assist.
Nov 21 Swedish sources report that Marta wants to stay in Umeå. Subsequent stories claim that Los Angeles had dropped out of the bidding war. In retrospect, Farah appears to have been playing one side against the other; in Umeå’s view, Umeå remained a second choice in case the WPS deal went awry.
Nov 25
Umeå IK

Given new hope, Umeå IK launches its “Rädda Marta” (Save Marta) campaign, calling on sponsors to help retain “the community’s most famous resident.” Local newspaper publisher Västerbottens-Kuriren pledges $125,000 over three years toward Marta’s salary. Rival Damallsvenskan side LDB Malmö earlier had offered to pitch in, just to keep the Brazilian in Sweden. Malmö ultimately would make its own contract proposal, using the lure of a €100m World Village of Women Sports planned in the city.

Nov 26 Legislators in Marta’s home state, Alagoas, approve a change in name of the state’s principal stadium, from Estádio Rei Pelé (Pelé the King Stadium) to Rainha Marta (Marta the Queen). “Up until today Pelé has not done anything for our football and never gave attention to the stadium that bears his name,” says sponsoring deputy Timóteo Correia. The name change requires approval from state governor Teotonio Vilela Filho.
Dec 5 Umeå makes a second contract proposal to Farah, who promises to reply but never does. “[He] does not ring that often,” says Åkerlund.
Dec 27
Aloisio

Marta participates in the ceremonial kickoff at the Jogo das Estrelas, a match in Maceió for Alagoan all-stars. Aloisio (right), who plays for Al-Rayyan in Qatar, remains noncommittal about renaming the state stadium in Marta’s honor: “Marta is a source of pride for Alagoas,” he says.

5 Jan 09 LDB Malmö backer Kent Widding Persson withdraws his team’s contract offer.
Jan 6 Umeå withdraws its offer, saying in a press release that “this disinterest in having a discussion with Marta’s employers for the past five years makes Umeå IK choose to put an end to this very long history.” Marta, for her part, has been silent on the situation, only acknowledging on Brazilian TV program Mais você on Dec 11 that Los Angeles was a possibility. On her website on Dec 18, she says, “My plans are to either stay in Sweden or to go to the US.” “Marta is on holiday, and nothing has changed,” was Farah’s mantra during this delicate dance among club executives, sponsors and press.
Jan 8
Fabiano Farah

Farah (right) receives a draft contract from Los Angeles Sol, reportedly $500,000 per season for three years: “The negotiation was long and difficult given the importance of Marta for the WPS as their principal signing. … It is an extensive contract and is about 40 pages long,” Farah tells globoesporte.com. Sol GM Charlie Naimo tells the New York Times: “I will say that that’s a lot of money to be throwing around and that a figure of $500,000 a year is ridiculous.”

Jan 12 At the FIFA Player of the Year Gala in Zürich, Marta makes it official: she will join the seven-team WPS as its biggest signing. She outpolls Cristiane (Brazil), Birgit Prinz (Germany), Nadine Angerer (Germany) and England’s Smith to win FIFA’s top women’s honor for the third straight year.
Mar 1 WPS pre-season begins. In late February, Marta arrives in Los Angeles to sign her contract. “My anxiety is normal,” she says on her website, “since it is about a new life.”
Mar 29 Los Angeles Sol hosts Washington Freedom in the inaugural WPS match (Fox Soccer Channel, 1800 EDT).

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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