Now a member of the Management Board of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ Organising Committee (LOC), in his playing days Bebeto formed formidable strike tandems with the likes of fellow goal aces Romario and Ronaldo. This Thursday, however, the man who helped Brazil to their fourth world title struck up a new attacking partnership with a match-winner by the name of Martha.
“Bebeto said he would pass the ball to me and he was true to his word,” said the lady in question, Martha Voigt, the Communications Coordinator of the state of Rio Grande do Sul’s Brazil 2014 Organising Committee. “The keeper saved the first chance I had and I put my second one wide of the post. I really focused for the third though, and stuck it right in the corner. It was a wonderful feeling to celebrate a goal with him.”
Martha’s precise strike won her side glory in a football tournament held in the city of Cuiaba and which brought together representatives from the communication departments of Brazil 2014’s 12 Host Cities, as well as FIFA and LOC officials, construction workers helping to build the Arena Pantanal, and even the head of Mato Grosso state’s Brazil 2014 Agency, Eder Moraes, who played in goal.
The tournament formed part of a social event organised for the participants of the Third FIFA World Cup Communication Seminar, held in the city this Wednesday and Thursday.
The last time Martha kicked a ball in anger was over 20 years ago when she was at school. Naturally she was delighted with her goalscoring contribution, which earned her a TV interview and the chance to share a joke or two with her family.
“I’ve got three daughters and when I told them I was going to be playing football they all wanted to show me how to dribble,” she explained. “After scoring the goal I told them that with a little bit of training I would have put all three away.”
Martha was playing in one of the two women’s teams in action, while the five mens sides faced off in a keenly contested competition of their own. And it was the home team, playing in yellow and made up of representatives from the Mato Grosso government’s FIFA World Cup Agency, who emerged victorious, winning three of their four games and drawing the other. For the losers, however, there was plenty of satisfaction to be taken from an enjoyable event.
“I’ll be going to bed a very happy man tonight. I’d never ever seen Bebeto up close before today, and there I was setting him up for one of his goals,” said Manoel do Nascimento, a caretaker at the Arena Pantanal.
At the age of 55, Manoel is just one member of a group of employees who have suffered labour exploitation. Before taking up his post at the stadium he worked as a factory guard, putting in shifts that could last anything up to 24 hours and going without pay for three or four months at a time. And whenever they did arrive, his wages would amount to a derisory sum or small basket of food items.
“I’m very proud of my job because this stadium is going to form part of history,” said Manoel. “Looking after the Arena Pantanal is no ordinary job, and I’ve been very fortunate.”