For the second straight FIFA Women’s World Cup, Brazil was knocked out in the round of 16. Despite the early departure and the country’s lack of funding for the sport, Brazil’s biggest women’s soccer star remains optimistic about the future.
Immediately following Sunday’s 2-1 loss to France, six-time FIFA World Player of the Year Marta gave an inspirational speech to every young girl in her nation.
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“It's wanting more,” Marta said. “It's training more. It's taking care of yourself more. It's being ready to play 90 plus 30 minutes. This is what I ask of the girls. There's not going to be a Formiga forever. There's not going to be a Marta forever. There's not going to be a Christiane. The women's game depends on you to survive. So think about that. Value it more. Cry in the beginning so you can smile in the end.”
As Marta alluded to, much of Brazil’s roster is past its prime. Marta and Cristiane are two of the most accomplished international players but are 34 and 33, respectively. At 41, Formiga is the oldest player to compete in a World Cup and the first to play in seven different World Cups.
More of a concern than the aging roster, though, is Brazil’s lack of attention and funding paid to its women’s team. Despite the finishing as runner-up in 2007, the women’s team gets a tiny sliver of the resources the well-decorated men’s team receives. Women’s teams across the globe are fighting for equal pay and treatment, and Brazil is no exception.
The Brazilians’ early exit may not be the finish that they wanted, but they’ve shown there’s plenty of interest in the women’s team. With the World Cup on basic cable, Brazil's games have drawn massive ratings that opened at 19.7 million viewers and peaked at a near-record 26.99 million viewers.
Marta may yet have another World Cup in her in 2023, but ideally she will have inspired another generation of stars to pick up where she’s left off with enthusiasm and passion for the game.
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