A veteran of five World Cups — she has scored at each tournament since 2003 and is the leading scorer all-time in World Cup tournaments with 17 goals — Marta and her Brazilian teammates have fought for equality and better treatment for female players in Brazil and across the world.
Marta is now 33 years old and along with her teammates Formiga (41) and Cristiane (34) a golden age of Brazilian soccer is close to ending, as they lost in the final of the WWC in 2007 and have reached the knockout rounds of each of the last six competitions.
Take a look below at her message in full, as she implored the next crop of Brazilian players to follow their lead.
"Cry in the beginning so you can smile in the end"
Australia’s 3-2 comeback victory over Brazil is an early contender for game of the tournament — for some very good reasons, as well others not so great.
First, the good:
By scoring the game’s opening goal — a penalty kick in the 27th minute (WATCH HERE) — Marta made history by becoming the first player (man or woman) to score a goal at five different World Cups, beginning all the way back in 2003. It was the 111th goal of her international career.
Cristiane made it 2-0 by scoring her fourth goal of the tournament just 11 minutes later (WATCH HERE). Brazil looked to have turned the clock back, while Australia were yet to even show up.
The Matildas sprang to life just before halftime, when Caitlin Foord pulled a goal back to make it 2-1.
Then, it all went a bit haywire. The Laws of the Game surrounding active and passive players in offside positions are horrifically murky and left up to the interpretation of the referee, which means the video-review decision made on Australia’s 58th-minute winner (WATCH HERE) was correct, by the book, but so horribly wrong in the spirit of the game.
After two games played, Brazil and Australia sit first and third, respectively, in Group C with three points each. To the surprise of many, it’s Italy who could go top of the group and secure at least a third-place spot in the knockout rounds with a victory over Jamaica on Friday (12 p.m. ET).
South Africa 0-1 China
China picked up its first points of the tournament, following an opening defeat to Germany, to move level with Spain in the race for second place in Group B.
Li Ying scored the game’s only goal in the 40th minute, a superb sliding finish to redirect Zhang Rui’s curling diagonal ball into the box.
Eleven minutes later Cristiane’s deft header made it 2-0, her fourth goal in two matches.
But Australia rallied behind star Sam Kerr, as Caitlin Foord pulled a goal back in first half stoppage.
Brazil’s defensive play worsened as Chloe Logarzo made it 2-2 in the 58th, and a flicked back header became an own goal. It was initially ruled offside like Kerr, but VAR flipped the referee’s decision to give the Matildas a massive break.
The Women’s World Cup begins Friday at the Parc des Princes in Paris, where hosts France will tangle with South Korea to kick off a month-long chase for the honor of being crowned the best team in women’s football.
Here’s the lowdown on half of the field.
The inside track: Hosts France are hoping for a title, or at least a Top Three finish for the first time in history. The French have lost just once since the start of 2018 and have Eugenie Le Sommer leading the line. Norway would present a genuine title threat were it not for the continued boycott of national team duty by Ballon d’Or Feminin winner Ada Hegerberg, who is protesting for equality. South Korea is hoping for a knockout round game, while Nigeria is hoping its dominance of Africa can translate past the group stage for just the second time in eight tries.
Friday, June 7: France v. South Korea
Saturday, June 8: Norway v. Nigeria
Wednesday, June 12: Nigeria v. South Korea
Wednesday, June 12: France v. Norway
Monday, June 17: Nigeria v. France
Monday, June 17: South Korea v. Norway
Three star players to watch
1) Eugenie Le Sommer, France (below)
2) Asisat Oshoala, Nigeria
3) Maren Mjelde, Norway
France and Nigeria win their openers, meeting for the Group A winners’ path on the final day. The hosts get it done.
The inside track: Two-time World Cup champions Germany are serial EURO winners and a tournament favorite on home continent soil. Once runners-up to the USWNT, China is seeking to reclaim its status as a threat on the world stage. PSG midfielder Wang Shuang should help that along a bit. Spain’s first World Cup saw a winless 20th place finish, so almost anything would be an improvement. South Africa has not won this year.
Saturday, June 8: Germany v. China
Saturday, June 8: Spain v. South Africa
Wednesday, June 12: Germany v. Spain
Thursday, June 13: South Africa v. China
Monday, June 17: South Africa v. Germany
Monday, June 17: China v. Spain
Three star players to watch
1) Alexandra Popp, Germany
2) Patricia Guijarro, Spain
3) Wang Shuang, China
Germany cruises through the group stage, and the final day’s meeting between China and Spain sorts the second slot.
The inside track: Australia has a puncher’s chance in any game, especially given Sam Kerr’s potential to do something wonderful at any given moment. Brazil is on an almost-absurd nine-match losing run, all matches coming away from South America. The Italians have fared well in the run-up, without testing themselves much. Khadija “Bunny” Shaw will bring a prolific goal scoring record to France for the Reggae Girlz of Jamaica.
Sunday, June 9: Australia v. Italy
Sunday, June 9: Brazil v. Jamaica
Thursday, June 13: Australia v. Brazil
Friday, June 14: Jamaica v. Italy
Tuesday, June 18: Jamaica v. Australia
Tuesday, June 18: Italy v. Brazil
Three star players to watch
1) Sam Kerr, Australia
2) Khadija “Bunny” Shaw, Jamaica
3) Marta, Brazil
All four teams remain alive on the final day, with Australia and Brazil earning places in the knockout rounds.