Christine Sinclair, the all-time leading goalscorer in international soccer, said goodbye to the international game on Tuesday.

She made her 331st international appearance, 23 years after her first for the Canadian senior national team. For one night only, the stadium was renamed Christine Sinclair Place.

Afterward, Sinclair told TSN that the night was “perfect,” as Canada took home a 1-0 win over Australia.

Also retiring was Sophie Schmidt, who played in 225 games for Canada. Sinclair warmed up in Schmidt’s jersey to honor her teammate.

“Nobody knew she was going to put Sophie’s shirt on, and to me, in that moment that absolutely epitomizes her,” manager Bev Priestman said of Sinclair. “She knows the world’s watching and she doesn’t want her teammate to get forgotten. And she put Sophie’s shirt on, albeit her shoulders are a bit broader than Sophie’s, so it didn’t fit so well. But I thought that was absolute class, and that would’ve made Sophie’s night.”

“I think tonight was incredible,” Canada forward Cloe Lacasse said. “Of course it was so emotional going out there as the starting 11, having Sinclair lead us out. I think everyone had tears in their eyes, but being able to end their careers in this incredible place, Christine Sinclair place, with a victory — I mean, I think it’s a dream for those two and they honestly deserve it more than anyone else.”

In the 12th minute, the crowd gave Sinclair a standing ovation.

“I’ve told her she’s absolutely irreplaceable,” Priestman said, “and forever this program will be better for her.”

While Sinclair will still play a little while longer with the NWSL’s Portland Thorns, it was a fitting send off on the international stage for one of the game’s greatest, who won a gold medal with Canada at the Tokyo Olympics.

“I mean honestly, just joy,” she said when asked to sum up the evening. “I’ve done everything I can on this national team. I’m 100 percent satisfied and content. And to go out with a win in front of my friends, in front of my family. Honestly, it’s been the perfect night.”

This year has been a long one for members of the Canadian women’s national team, with the dispute between players and their national federation extending up to (and beyond) the 2023 World Cup.

Speaking on Just Women’s Sports‘ “Snacks” podcast, Janine Beckie – who missed the World Cup with a torn ACL – called the fights “soul crushing.” In February, the team threatened to boycott the SheBelieves Cup over budget cuts, but players were told they didn’t have the legal standing to do so.

“Come January 2023, they’re like, ‘Oh, we’re in this really bad position financially, we’re going to cut budgets to make sure that we can continue to operate over the next couple of years,’” Beckie said. “And it was just like so soul-crushing as a player, and especially as someone who’s been so involved in the conversation, to have had all the conversations that we had and felt like we were making progress, and then your budget is slashed in a World Cup year off the back of being Olympic champions. It was just like, ‘What is going on?’”

It took nearly six months for the team to reach an interim agreement with Canada Soccer over pay, despite captain Christine Sinclair saying that players needed a deal in place before playing in the World Cup. Instead, that deal came days after the World Cup began. And it still was a disappointing deal for players, as it remains incomplete.

On “Snacks,” Beckie reiterated that players are still unhappy with the deal as it stands.

“We don’t have any kind of formal CBA that we are happy with at this point,” she said. “That’s still all to be negotiated. Our full intention is to have a substantial CBA that we are happy with moving forward over the next couple of years, instead of continuing to come back to the table and just negotiate these short-term deals. There’s a lot of it that we can’t control as players, and I think that’s been one of the hardest things.”

Players on the Canada women’s national soccer team want their pay dispute with their national federation settled before they leave for the 2023 World Cup next week.

The pre-tournament camp is scheduled to start on June 28 in Australia, with the tournament kicking off on July 20. Canada captain Christine Sinclair told the Canadian Press that players want to get a deal done so that they don’t have the issue hanging over their heads throughout the World Cup.

And while the team hasn’t reached its breaking point yet, time is running out.

“We’re not at a point where we’re not getting on a plane, but time’s coming where we want it done so as players we’re not having to deal with it while we’re trying to prepare,” Sinclair told the Canadian Press.

Sinclair is not expecting a long-term solution to the long-standing battle for pay equity and funding.

“But us as a women’s team have flat out told the CSA (Canada Soccer Association) that we need a deal in place for at least the World Cup and this year before we head down there,” she said. “I think it will happen. Will it be a long-term deal? No. But something will be done before the World Cup starts.”

The women’s team has been without a labor deal since its previous one expired at the end of 2021. Earlier this year, players threatened it sit out the SheBelieves Cup before being strong-armed into playing the tournament by their federation.

In March, the two sides agreed to an interim deal, which covered the period of time in 2022 for which team members had not been paid. But players said there remained “a lot of work to be done.”

A permanent deal has not been reached due to a number of factors, the players’ association said at the time, including repeated failure by Canada Soccer to properly disclose financial numbers as well as the fight by the women’s team for an agreement that “establishes fair and equitable standards.”

Players did take part in the April FIFA window after saying they would only do so provided that “meaningful progress” has been made in negotiations. Still, a final deal has not been reached; the Canada men’s national team also is still negotiating its contract.

The reigning Olympic gold champion, Canada enters the final month of World Cup preparation among the top 10 contenders, according to the betting odds.

“I don’t know all the details on the men’s side of things but we’re fighting the same fight,” Sinclair said. “I think us as players, we fear that we as national teams could get left behind when you see the support that other federations are putting into their teams, putting into their youth programming, putting into professional leagues.

“If we want to remain relevant, yes, some things are going to have to change.”