Friday morning I hopped into the cah (too soon for Boston accents?) and headed to Boston for my first Harvard Stadium experience of the year and boy was I treated. The showdown between FC Gold Pride and the Boston Breakers was top-notch action in the first half with Marta and Kelly Smith trading punches. As ESPN’s Jacqueline Purdy said, it was one of the best halves of soccer in WPS in the past two seasons, but it was unfortunately not on television or webcast.
Anyway, I figured with my usual trips to New Jersey for Sky Blue FC games now being accompanied by visits to Philadelphia, Boston and yes, Atlanta for the All-Star Game, fans might enjoy knowing some things that will not make the match report.
First, hats off to Boston. The city and the fans. I had the time to explore Boston Harbor and Quincy Market a bit on Saturday and I was really impressed with a city that didn’t have the absurd, annoying hustle and bustle that can commonly be found in the Big Apple. There was a refreshing calm and sense of home in Boston. Also, the 5,283 fans that turned up at Harvard made for a great environment on a night when the Bruins had a home playoff game and heavy rain threatened in the final minutes of an otherwise beautiful night.
Friday before the game I also had a great one-on-one with FC Gold Pride forward Tiffeny Milbrett. Look for more on that this week. She was truly a pleasure to just sit down and talk soccer with.
The real things that stood out to me involved the traveling circus that is Marta. During post-game interviews there were indeed several bizarre happenings, including a die-hard Breakers fan telling Marta to join the “Brazilian Diving Team” and a Brazilian ‘reporter’ that had an acomplis hand her a Brazil jersey that she stuck in the face of Marta with a Sharpie. To that, Boston forward Lauren Cheney scowled and told her that autographs take place in Autograph Alley and the woman promplty (and thankfully) left. You can’t write that into a script if you tried.
My real beef comes with the Portuguese-speaking media at the game, though. The post-game scene for the match was unlike any other usual setting in WPS – cameras, lights, microphones in the faces of players (well, at least one) – a true media circus. The attention Marta gets on the road is kind of the miniature version of the splash that David Beckham can bring in the sense that it is disproportional to the rest of the players in MLS.
However, few of the additional folks covering these matches are part of the English-speaking media and I have a serious beef with the approach in talking to Marta.
Here you have the greatest female player in the world – the four-time FIFA World Player of the Year – and you can ask her anything in her native tongue. You could talk about just how special she is, which she clearly showed in Friday’s performance, one that saw her score two goals by absolutely out-classing everyone else on the field, including U.S. Women’s National Team defender Stephanie Cox.
But instead every question revolves around the men’s game. Take notice that at the FIFA Awards Gala in December, the only questions from the media for any of the female finalists for World Player of the Year went to Marta and all of them involved what her thoughts were on Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi. On Friday, after a spectacular performance from Marta, the only questions asked post-game were by Portuguese-speaking media and almost every single one involved what her thoughts were on the selection of Brazil’s World Cup squad – the men’s team headed to South Africa, of course.
Those questions went on for only so long until a clearly upset Marta turned to her translator and gave her the ‘enough’ signal and she was shuffled off by security. She did not want to talk about the men’s game. She wanted to talk about WPS and what had just happened on the field. That’s pretty natural and I don’t think it is much to ask of the media.
For these folks insistent on asking Marta these questions, please stop. It is an insult to the integrity of WPS and perhaps the greatest women’s soccer player of all-time by disregarding a spectacular performance to ask her about unrelated business. Take the time to come out and speak with Marta about the product on the field, which is much better than you probably think it is. The reverence for Marta is there – otherwise there would not be cameras in her face. But the conversations being had with her are all wrong and credit to her for sticking to her demands to talk about WPS and women’s soccer, not unrelated things. Again, she was not happy to be talking about the men’s team Friday, although she put on a smile for a while and abliged.
I can’t speak for the media everywhere or even in the Bay Area, but I have seen this several times now in various locations and it is simply absurd. Some of the WPS questions were asked, but they were almost like asides to the questions about men’s soccer – as if they were necessary to justify asking her the unrelated things. The bottom line is enough is enough. Marta plays in WPS, not La Liga or anywhere else.
|5 Comments… read them below or post one|
|Thanks for the feedback folks. To be clear, this is not a single event. That should be stated that it had nothing to do with the fact that it was in Boston. I’ve been to the Marta show in New Jersey and experienced clips such as the FIFA Awards Gala. It’s more of a consistent thing and the mishandling of Marta is just a microcosm of the lack of deep coverage for women’s soccer (and women’s sports, really). In fairness there were questions about the game, but they seemed well overshadowed by these questions about Brazil’s World Cup squad.|
|so what did you ask Marta & did she seem happier w/ your WPS related question 😀 Seriously, you make some good points and I’m bcming a fan of your work.|
|Very well written! I’m from Brazil and I see it here too. Thank you.|
|it’s about time someone in the press said this. it reminds me of watching the ladies of the LPGA tour get asked about tiger woods. (huh? who cares?) i’d love to hear what marta thinks about her performance on the field, the move to FC Gold Pride, and the WPS … i’m looking forward to this happening SOON!|