Monday 15 January 2024, 23:30

FIFA President hails “pioneering” Marta after new award announced

  • Gianni Infantino calls Brazilian legend “a role model” after glittering career

  • New annual Marta Award to honour best goal in women’s football

  • Marta hints at international return with Brazil for 2024 Paris Olympics

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has congratulated Brazilian legend Marta on her “pioneering role” in women’s football, and told her the new award named in her honour will be “a continuation of your great legacy”. Marta received The FIFA Special Award during The Best FIFA Football Awards™ ceremony in London to acknowledge a two-decade-long career in which she has become one of the most recognisable figures in the game.

The FIFA Special Award: Marta

After an emotional and powerful acceptance speech, the 37-year-old football icon was told her achievements would be immortalised with an annual award named after her. It will be given to the scorer of the best goal in women’s football with The Puskás Award recognising the scorer of the best goal in men’s football. “Congratulations to you, the legendary Marta, on receiving the FIFA Special Award on a very special night. It’s richly deserved for playing a pioneering role in the women’s game, and being the role model you are for not only young girls but everyone across the world,” said President Infantino of Marta, who joins compatriot Pelé as the only winners of the FIFA Special Award to date. “It is also fitting that we introduce the Marta Award tonight as part of The Best FIFA Football Awards. A continuation of your great legacy, this award will celebrate and recognise the best goal scored in women’s football - another step in FIFA’s quest of achieving inclusive, global growth of our beautiful game!”

“It was in a [FIFA Women’s] World Cup semi-final in 2007, in China, Brazil against the United States. That’s the one I would choose.” Picking out her top honour from a career that has seen her win trophies in Sweden and the USA as well as her native Brazil at both club and international level may be trickier. She has also been named The Best FIFA Women’s Player no fewer than six times, but the broad smile she displayed as she picked up the latest addition to her long list of honours told its own story. “I think this one is even more special because it sums up an entire battle, it sums up a life that is dedicated to this sport we all love. And when we do things with love, I think we end up reaping the fruits and garner compliments,” she said.

FIFA Special Award Winner, Marta Vieira da Silva

“The fruits are, obviously, the matches, the championships you win through what you do — in my case, playing football. But the compliments are that additional touch, something special that comes through recognition. “You don’t plan on receiving an award like this. It’s not for how you performed throughout the year as an athlete, but for what you do for society in general. And, for me, that is priceless.” There may be more success to come in what is undoubtedly the Indian summer of a glorious career.

Still playing with National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) club Orlando Pride, Marta had announced her international retirement following Brazil’s surprise group-stage exit at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™. But she has opened the door to one last hurrah in the iconic yellow shirt. “After this award, I’ll be leaving filled with motivation, ready to work and do my part, and maybe play on at another Olympics, which is the biggest tournament this year,” said the two-time Olympic silver medallist referring to the summer’s Games in Paris. “After that, we will have other answers, whether I should continue [playing] or it is time to stop. But, for now, I’m very motivated and I will continue doing what I love the most — playing football.”