Last month Marta was awarded the World Footballer of the Year trophy for the forth time. I have said it before: Marta is a great player. But in ten years, only three women have been given this award (Mia Hamm got it twice, & Birgit Prinz three times). Since 2001 (the year FIFA started awarding this trophy to female players), 9 men received the award with Ronaldinho winning it twice. I suspect Marta herself doesn't think she deserves to have won this honor four years in a row.
You can watch the ceremony's introduction of nominees here, as well as brief interviews with Cristiane and Marta. It's not translated, sadly.
Charmaine Hooper, a FIFA Committee member and one of Canada's greatest players, introduced the nominees. The Sith Lord of Soccer, Seth Blatter, stood by her side and handed the Sol/Santos player the award. I hoped she'd club him over the head with it. But she didn't.
Last year, I wrote that I suspected that the problem with this award is that FIFA's members - even female players - do not get enough real media exposure to their own game to really know their colleagues. (Votes are cast by coaches and captains of international teams.) The media gives so little time and attention to the women's game, it can only handle one "star" at a time. So players like Nadine Angerer (Germany's goalkeeper, who played the 2007 World Cup without conceding a single goal - this includes at least one penalty save, if I remember correctly and had a great year this year) or Christiane (Marta's crucial and insanely gifted partner in crime) or Hope Solo or any number of other gifted players are ignored.
It's shameful and it seriously diminishes the value of this award - the people casting these votes need a real kick in the pants. I'm disgusted by the sports media, which has reported on Marta's four-year reign as if it were not a problem. Just goes to show you how little women's soccer they actually watch - and, perhaps, how every damned story about women's soccer has to have a smile slapped on it, like it is always good news.
So far, I've only noticed one article that complains - The Final Third, a blog (of course), asks WTF? They gripe "Marta plays like a beast, but she isn't like Ronaldinho is she?" I don't know about that - she is pretty amazing, especially when supported by a great team (as is the case for any attacking player). But let's say she is a female Ronaldinho. Even when at his best, he only won that award twice. So, yeah - WTF. Marta should have just handed that thing to Cristiane. Maybe she did.
I'd love to know what other people think about this!
[A reader tipped me off to this interview with Shek Borkowski - he speaks in depth about the award, the ceremony, and FIFA's "lack of imagination" - it's a really informed discussion, and very worth listening too! He addresses these issues starting at about 6 minutes.]