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  • Writer's pictureEmma Treptow

Christine Sinclair Announces Her International Retirement

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

The time has come for us to say goodbye to another legend of the game. On Friday, October 20, Christine Sinclair announced that she would be retiring from international soccer at the end of the year. Sinclair is the all-time leading goalscorer for men or women, with 190 goals.

Christine Sinclair on the ball in game against Costa Rica during 2022 Concacaf World Cup Qualifiers. Photo by Elyanna Garcia.

Christine Sinclair started her career with the Canadian national team in 2000 and hasn’t missed a beat since then. The Canadian captain has played in six World Cups and four Olympic games during this time period. Sinclair first broke into the international scene during the inaugural FIFA U-19 Women’s World Cup in 2002, where she scored a record-setting ten goals to help Canada to a second-place finish in the tournament. After a successful 2003 World Cup campaign, Sinclair solidified herself as one of the most important pieces in the Canadian squad.

In 2010, Sinclair became the first Canadian to hit the 100-goal mark, with a goal in a friendly against Poland. She was only the tenth woman at the time to hit that mark. That same year, Sinclair won her first major championship with Canada, as the team was victorious in the 2010 Concacaf Women’s Championship. This qualified the team for the 2011 World Cup, which proved to be utterly disappointing for the team.

Things began to look up again during the 2012 Olympics as they unexpectedly made it to the semifinals where they met a familiar foe, the United States. In an unforgettable match, Sinclair recorded a hat trick but it wasn’t enough as the Americans were able to put up four goals in controversial fashion. The officiating came under question after that game and Sinclair was at the forefront of it. Despite that, Canada was able to bounce back and secure the bronze medal over France. Sinclair won the Golden Boot of the tournament, with six goals across six games at the tournament. This tournament was the beginning of Sinclair’s rise to stardom. She began to be recognized more both nationally and internationally.

This only increased as the next World Cup in 2015 was played on her home turf. The team scraped by in the group stage to make it to the knockout round before eventually bowing out in the quarterfinals. Unfortunately for Sinclair, throughout her career, World Cups will continue to be Canada’s Achilles heel despite success in the Olympics. The 2016 Rio Olympics saw Sinclair pick up another bronze medal with Canada, as she scored the game-winning goal to defeat the hosts Brazil in the third-place match. The 2019 World Cup is when the questions surrounding “when would Christine Sinclair retire” began, especially as she neared closer to Abby Wambach’s record of 184 international goals. Canada yet again bowed out early in the 2019 World Cup.

It was the 2020 Olympic Qualifying game against St. Kitts and Nevis where the record was broken. On her 290th appearance with the Canadian national team, Sinclair scored two goals in the opening 23 minutes of the match. These two goals put the record at 185, which Sinclair has since extended to 190. It feels fitting that Sinclair broke the record in qualifying for the 2020 Olympics as Canada went on to win the tournament. The win was Sinclair’s first major tournament win with Canada, something she waited so long for. Despite not playing much during the 2020 Olympics, due to her age and the introduction of younger new players, Sinclair helped lead her team through her experience and leadership.

From the Olympics on, Sinclair started to see less playing time with the national team as younger players entered the system. But she was still there, helping and leading the team. During these final years of her international career, Sinclair began to get more involved with off-the-field fights. These include the fight for a domestic league within Canada and a fight with the Canadian Soccer Federation over funding and compensation for the women’s side. Unfortunately for Sinclair, her final major tournament was far from what she expected. The Canadians crashed out in the group stage after drawing to Nigeria, beating Ireland, and then losing 4-0 to the hosts, Australia. This would be the last time we saw Christine Sinclair on the world stage without even knowing it.

Christine Sinclair fist bumps her Portland Thorns teammate, Rocky Rodriguez, in 2022 Concacaf World Cup Qualifiying. Photo by Elyanna Garcia.

Sinclair has had a successful club career throughout these years. She has spent the majority of it with the Portland Thorns, having been there since the NWSL was founded in 2013. In her ten-year span with the Thorns, the team has won three championships and Sinclair has made over 150 appearances. Pre-NWSL, Sinclair played with the Vancouver Breakers and Vancouver Whitecaps in the USL W-League from 2001-2008. In 2008, the WPS was formed and Sinclair was drafted eighth overall to the FC Gold Pride where she stayed until the club folded in 2010. Sinclair made the move to the Western New York Flash in 2010, where she stayed until the NWSL was formed, and she made her permanent move back to Portland, where she played college soccer. Sinclair will return to Portland for another year, she announced in an Instagram post on October 20.

Sinclair is an absolute legend of the game, and the game will sorely miss her after she plays her final game in December. Before then, Sinclair and Canada have games scheduled for this October’s international break against Brazil. The first game is on Saturday, October 28, at 2:30 pm EST. The second game is on Tuesday, October 31, at 7:30 pm EST. The familiar foes are bound to play a strong game, with the Saturday game in Montreal being announced as sold out on Friday. The two games will be streamed exclusively on OneSoccer.

It was announced on October 23 that Sinclair’s final camp and games with the Canadian national team will be played in December against Australia. The first game of the series will be on December 1 at 10:30 pm EST at Starlight Stadium in Victoria. The second, and final game of Christine Sinclair’s illustrious international career will be on December 5, at 10:00 pm EST at BC Place in Vancouver. The games are set to be streamed on OneSoccer and tickets will go on sale on October 30.


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