KEIR RADNEDGE in SAO PAULO: Marta has found some consolation for Brazil’s Olympic women’s medal failure in winning the Swedish cup back on duty with club Rosengard.
But, back home, there is no immediate sign or initial gesture that the domestic game is interested in capitalising on the enthusiasm she and her team-mates sparked for women’s football during the Rio 2016 Games.
Marta, arguably the finest-ever woman footballer, made the first two goals then scored the third as Rosengard defeated Linkoping 3-1 in front of a 2,000-plus crowd. Victory was revenge for Linkoping’s deeat of Rosengard last year.
Ironically the first goal Marta created was for Lotta Schelin who had captained the Swedish side who beat Marta’s Brazil on penalties in the Olympic semi-finals.
Meanwhile, in Brazil at the weekend, around 400 fans turned out to see Rio Preto beat Santos 1-0 and thus win the Paulista state women’s championship after a goalless draw in the previous week’s first leg in the Vila Belmiro.
Not one of the players of either club were in the 18-strong Olympic squad. Some 13 play their club football abroad – in Sweden, China, Denmark, France, South Korea, Spain and the United States – while the other five were all ‘between clubs’ and ths registered directly with the Brazilian CBF.
Brazil are one of the world’s top national teams and by far the best in South America. They have been runners-up once and third once in the Women’s World Cup and, at the Olympics, have won silver twice and finished fourth on two occasions (as in Rio). They have won the last four Copa America tournaments.
Hence their status and achievement level are nothing new. But for all the enthusiasm of the Olympic crowds – an average attendance for their games of more than 40,000 – the state of the club game is woeful.
A survey by Folha de Sao Paulo revealed that the handful of top clubs have monthly budgets for their women’s teams of £15,000-a-month at most which includes all administrative costs even before paying a few reais to the players.
Most clubs outside the major cities have no budget at all. Their women’s team running costs are met out of local authorities’ sports development budgets and the clubs lend only their names and matchday facilities.
It is not as if the CBF lacks the cash. World federation FIFA created a $100m development fund for Brazilian football out of its [men’s] World Cup profits in 2014 of which a minimum $15m had to be spend on the women’s game.
The money remains untouched because the CBF, under FIFAGate-wanted Marco Polo Del Nero, has failed abysmally to come up with any sort of action plan. Marta’s appeal, in the wake of the Olympics, for Brazil to invest in the women’s game appears to have fallen on deaf ears.
In the meantime, she went into the Swedish cup final still feeling upset at the failure in Rio to have matched Brazil’s men and win the Olympic gold medals which went instead to Germany with Sweden taking silver and Canada bronze.
After Rosengard’s victory, Marta said: “It was not easy after everything that had happened in the Olympics. We had believed we could go all the way but we couldn’t. So I just had to try to put that out of my mind for this final and do the best to play a good game.
“The Olympic defeat was very hard to take but I know the pain will ease with time. The only way to forget it is to succeed here.”