Infantino congratulates Canada’s Sinclair for goals record

FIFA President Gianni Infantino congratulated Canadian Christine Sinclair for setting the overall international goals record among both men and women during an Olympic soccer qualifying match.

Sinclair scored her 185th career goal against Saint Kitts and Nevis in Texas on Wednesday to surpass retired U.S. star Abby Wambach.

“This achievement rewards your outstanding twenty-year career at the highest level, which could only be achieved thanks to your tremendous commitment, exemplary motivation, hard work and incredible passion for our beautiful game,” Infantino wrote in the letter Thursday. “Your human qualities and skills, not to mention your remarkable contribution to the popularity and growth of women’s football, or soccer, deserve our admiration.”

Sinclair converted on a penalty in the seventh minute to match Wambach, then broke the record with a goal in the 23rd. Canada went on to defeat Saint Kitts and Nevis 11-0 in the opening match of the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying tournament.

Sinclair, who was subbed out of the game in the 47th minute, made her debut for Canada’s senior team in 2000 at age 16. Now 36, she also plays for the Portland Thorns of the National Women’s Soccer League.

The record came in her 290th appearance for the national team.

Ali Daei of Iran holds the men’s record with 109 goals in 149 international appearances.

Known for her humility, Sinclair said she was happy to get the record out of the way so the team could focus on qualifying. Canada has won back-to-back bronze medals in the Olympics.

“I definitely feel a relief, especially with the tournament we’re in right now, because there’s some big things to focus on,” she said. “It’s just nice to get it out of the way in the opening game so we can focus on getting better and improving and qualifying for the Olympics.”

Sinclair’s achievement drew accolades in Canada and beyond.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau weighed in via Twitter: “She did it! Christine Sinclair is now international soccer’s all-time leading goal scorer. Congratulations, @sincy12 – you rock!”

Wambach posted a tribute to Sinclair on Instagram.

“Tonight, I am celebrating the honor of passing that record, that legacy of our beautiful game, to the great Christine Sinclair: world-record holder for most international goals — man or woman — in history. Christine: History is made. Your victory is our victory. We celebrate with you,” Wambach wrote.

Among the others who offered praise were former NBA star and fellow Canadian Steve Nash and tennis legend Billie Jean King.

In addition to Saint Kitts and Nevis, Canada’s group for qualifying includes Jamaica and Mexico. The other group, which includes the World Cup champion U.S. team, Costa Rica, Haiti and Panama, is playing its matches in Houston.

The top teams in each group advance to the semifinals in Carson, California, on Feb. 7. The top two finishers in the tournament qualify for the Olympics in Tokyo this summer.