Six-time FIFA World Player of the Year Marta Vieira da Silva has announced she will marry her Orlando Pride teammate Toni Deion Pressley.

On 4 January, Brazilian world-class footballer Marta Vieira da Silva posted three pictures on Instagram of herself and her partner Toni Deion Pressley wearing a new ring. Underneath, she wrote:

“This is another story of the chapter we are writing.”

Pressley, in turn, posted the same pictures on her Instagram profile and wrote just one word:

“Yes.”

The couple plan to marry later this year.

 

 

Symbol of emancipation …

 

Marta Vieira da Silva is from northeastern Brazil, from a small town in Alagoas – a state with the lowest Human Development Index in the country, comparable to Iraq. At the age of 14, Marta left home and travelled alone by bus towards Rio de Janeiro to start her football career.

Today she is a legend of Brazilian football. The striker has been named FIFA’s best female footballer of the year a total of six times – in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2018.

Because of her notoriety and popularity, Marta’s career has a real social impact, especially for women and for Brazil’s marginalised LGBTIQ* community. She uses it as aggressively as she uses the ball on the court.

As a UN Ambassador for Women and Girls, Marta is a symbol of female emancipation and a shining example of what women can achieve.

Marta

“All the women who play football here are actually symbols of this struggle. In Brazil, football is a very machist environment. Playing football is an act of resistance for women.”

Julia Santana, a 26-year-old lesbian football player from Salvador, tells inews.

“I have always played football and was the only girl among the boys,” Santana explains. “To see an athlete with the immense impact she has had has always filled me with great pride. Because she was from the Northeast, because she was a woman and because she was the best in the world for a long time.”

 

 

… And ambassador for the marginalised LGBTIQ* community in Brazil.

 

As an openly lesbian woman, Marta is also an ambassador for the queer community in Brazil. Because of pioneers like Marta, being a lesbian in women’s football is no longer so scary, Bahia player Gadu tells inews.

Many clubs have now taken up the cause. Nevertheless, there is still a lot of prejudice. Also because Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is himself an out-and-proud homophobe.

“Brazil […] is still the country where most LGBT people are killed,” Santana explains.

In 2019 alone, 297 people were murdered in attacks motivated by homophobia or transphobia, according to Grupo Gay da Bahia, the oldest gay human rights defence association in Brazil.

Marta’s lesbian wedding will not have a magical effect, but it could have a positive impact because “the figure of Marta {also} is strong beyond the four lines outside the football pitch,” Santana explains. “A homophobe might change their mind because of Marta’s influence,” Santana adds. But she sees Marta’s marriage as a huge benefit, especially for the next generation:

“An LGBTIQ* child can see themselves represented in one of the greatest idols in the history of football, they can draw strength from it to go on.”

We wish all the love – to the couple and to Brazil’s queer community.

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credits

  • 915px-Marta_(41257117200): By Jamie Smed / CC BY 2.0 / wikimedia.org
  • Marta_Silva: martavsilva10 / instagram

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