Women's World Cup 2019

Marta dedicates record to 'anyone fighting for equality'

Brazil forward Marta kissing her boot and celebrating with teammates after scoring the penalty in the 1-0 World Cup win over Italy in their final Group C match in Valenciennes on Tuesday. The Brazilians have made it to the knockout stage as one of fo
Brazil forward Marta kissing her boot and celebrating with teammates after scoring the penalty in the 1-0 World Cup win over Italy in their final Group C match in Valenciennes on Tuesday. The Brazilians have made it to the knockout stage as one of four best third-placed teams in the tournament.PHOTO: REUTERS

VALENCIENNES • Marta secured her place among the legends of football on Tuesday after the Brazilian became the World Cup's all-time leading scorer, converting from the spot as the Selecao beat Italy 1-0 in their final Group C game.

Playing in her fifth World Cup, she surpassed former Germany great Miroslav Klose in the men's competition with her 17th strike before dedicating the record-breaking goal to her peers.

"This record doesn't belong to me, it belongs to all of us," said the 33-year-old Marta after her goal set up a last-16 clash with either hosts France or Germany.

"I share it with anyone fighting for more equality."

Joking about her fear Klose would attempt to reclaim his mark by "changing his mind about retiring and play at the next World Cup (in 2022 in Qatar)", the forward then turned serious when asked about the possibility of facing Les Bleues, who topped Group A with a 100 per cent record.

She said: "To play against the host nation would be a privilege. The stadium would be full of fans singing.

"I love playing in front of a big crowd, whether it's supporting me or is against me. I just want there to be fans who are watching us."

Evergreen Marta is widely considered the greatest player in the history of the women's game and she was hailed by her teammates as an inspiration for others wanting to take up the male-dominated sport.

Lauding the veteran as an "icon for us", Monica said: "Every year, she is breaking records and that's not just important for us, but for all of women's football. I'm so happy she is Brazilian."

Fellow defender Tamires added: "We have a lot of young players coming up and I hope they look to her and how she plays, what makes her so special and so incredible, and follow her."

Despite their defeat, Italy still finished as group winners on goal difference from Australia and Brazil, and the battling display left Azzurre forward Barbara Bonansea confident ahead of her side's clash with one of the four best third-placed finishers in the round of 16.

Marta's winner overshadowed another historic feat for Samantha Kerr, who became the first Australian to score a World Cup hat-trick as she smashed four goals past eliminated Jamaica in Grenoble, with the 4-1 win giving her team the runners-up spot in Group C.

"It's one to tell my kids about," the forward said. "Any time you break a record, especially for your country, it is an amazing feeling."

The Matildas will play Norway, who finished second in Group A, in Nice in the last 16 on Saturday.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2019, with the headline 'Marta dedicates record to 'anyone fighting for equality''. Print Edition | Subscribe