Brazil great Marta to stay on national soccer team

SAO PAULO — Brazil great Marta will remain on the national soccer team despite growing player discontent after the firing of coach Emily Lima.

The five-time FIFA player of the year said Thursday night she will not follow the actions of teammates Cristiane, Fran and Rosana.

"I will not stop playing for Brazil. Whenever they want me I will be willing to go," the 31-year-old Orlando Pride player said. "I am very sad, these athletes still have a lot to give. I hope the girls take it back so we can fight like we did all our lives, asking for improvements, pay rises and whatever is needed."

In an interview with channel SporTV on Thursday after Lima was fired, Marta avoided criticizing the Brazilian soccer confederation (CBF) for appointing Oswaldo Alvarez to succeed Lima and wished him luck. She said the players liked Lima's philosophy of taking on better teams instead of avoiding them until big competitions.

Under Lima, the Brazil women won seven matches, lost five and drew one.

Alvarez was Brazil's coach at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. The team reached the semifinals but failed to win a medal. He was fired 10 months ago and replaced by Lima.

In an Instagram video, Marta said she had faced pressure from players and fans since striker Cristiane announced Wednesday that she was retiring from the national team due to the management of the team.

On Thursday, midfielder Fran and defender Rosana followed.

"I won't play for Brazil due to the last events with the firing of the coach in such a short time," Fran said on her social media channels. "All the athletes were satisfied regardless of the bad results. We asked them (the federation) to keep her, but that was not enough."

The CBF said in a statement on Friday that the decision of the retiring players "is personal and must be respected."

"The new coaching staff takes over with the commitment of making great preparations for Copa America and the 2019 World Cup. The confederation is 100 percent committed to securing a spot in those two competitions," the statement said.

New coach Alvarez, known as Vadao, contacted players for the first time on Friday, with Marta on the list.

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