On Wednesday, January 29th 2020, Christine Sinclair made history. After scoring her 185th goal at the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, Sinclair has beaten the leading goal scoring record in women’s and men’s international soccer.
Sinclair becoming the world’s highest scoring soccer player means she has passed her former competitor, Abby Wambach’s record of 184 goals. While this achievement may fuel an athlete’s ego, Sinclair shows the appreciation and respect that she has for Wambach by commenting on the influence that Wambach has had on her career: “She pushed me to levels I didn’t think were possible”.
It is uncommon for a female soccer player to receive personal praise from the head of FIFA, however Sinclair’s record demands special recognition. The president, Gianni Infantino, released a letter expressing his “warmest congratulations on this historical and exceptional accomplishment.” Infantino also wrote “This achievement rewards your outstanding 20-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…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.”
The president noted that at the time of the goal, Sinclair was competing in her 290th international match for Canada, including five World Cup appearances and three Olympics Games.
Despite this praise, Sinclair’s achievements are hardly noted next to male soccer figures such as Ronaldo, Messi, and Ibrahimović. It is even difficult to find professional sport journalism of Sinclair’s achievement when compared to articles on current English Premier League news. Other than Canadian news services, the lack of media coverage on Christine Sinclair’s recent accomplishment relates to the broader sociological issue of gender inequality in both amateur and professional sports. The international soccer sport coverage seems to be dominated by the drama, gossip and rumours of trades, managers being hired and fired, and salary of professional male players, while a female’s massive milestone in her career and in soccer and sport history is neglected.
There is irony in the fact that Sinclair is the leading international goal scorer, one of the greatest and most exciting accomplishments in soccer, yet in terms of recognition, media coverage, advertising endorsement, and salary, she is not even close to male soccer players who have accomplished much less.