England vice-captain Mary Earps has criticized Nike’s “hugely hurtful” decision not to put her goalkeeper shirt on sale for the second successive tournament.
Fans were unable to purchase Earps’ kit during the Euros last summer, but the Manchester United goalkeeper was told the issue would be resolved before the World Cup.
But Earps, who was named FIFA’s Best Women’s Goalkeeper for 2022, discovered that she had been left out of promotional images when the Lionesses’ World Cup kit was released in April and that her jersey would again be unavailable.
Earps raised the issue with Nike and even offered to finance the production herself, but was told it wouldn’t be possible.
“I really can’t sugarcoat this in any way so I’m not going to try it, it’s very disappointing and very painful,” Earps said at the Brisbane hotel in England.
Mary Earps has criticized Nike’s ‘hugely hurtful’ decision not to put her England goalkeeper kit up for sale for the second successive tournament
Earps was nowhere to be seen when the Lionesses kit was unveiled for this summer’s Women’s World Cup in April.
‘It’s something I’ve been fighting behind closed doors. I have been desperately trying to find a solution with the FA and with Nike.
“Unfortunately, it has become very apparent that it is not possible and that there will not be an acceptable solution for young children.” On a personal level, it’s obviously very painful, especially considering the last 12 months.
‘So my own family, friends and loved ones can’t buy my shirt, they’re just going out and wearing normal clothes. All my teammates, they’ve ordered a lot of jerseys for their friends and family, they’re talking at the dinner table “I couldn’t get this” and I’m like “I couldn’t get it at all.”
‘I know there are a lot of people who have spent a lot of money on field jerseys and then put ‘1 Earps’ on the back, which doesn’t sit well with me either.
“It’s a very scary message being sent to gatekeepers around the world that ‘you’re not important’
‘One lesson I learned is that I should have made a public statement earlier, maybe. I look back and I’ve tried everything. I offered to finance it myself and my teammates have been very supportive.
Earps, pictured in her tournament uniform, was told the issue would be resolved.
Mail Sport understands that Nike does not sell women’s goalkeeper shirts because it is not part of its commercial strategy.
This includes your other customers, such as the United States and Australian co-hosts. Adidas is also not selling goalkeeper jerseys for teams in the World Cup.
Earps spoke passionately and at length about the damaging message he believes this sends to aspiring goalkeepers.
‘My shirt on the Manchester United website last season was sold out. It was the third best-selling jersey. So who says it doesn’t sell? I asked “can there be a solution? Can we make a replica of a shirt that can be sold to the youth?”
‘Little kids are going to say ‘Mom, Dad, can I have a Mary Earps shirt?’ and they will say “I can’t [buy that] but I can get you an Alessia Russo 23 or a Rach Daly 9”. So what you are saying is that goalkeeping is not important, but you can be a striker if you want.
“That was my point for Nike as well – we could be world leaders in this area, which is something we pride ourselves on, to be the first, to be the best, and I think we’re really falling short here.
‘I get comments all the time on all my social media channels: ‘Mary, where are the shirts!’ Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it happen. I feel really bad that a lot of the fans have been really disappointed by this, it makes me feel really bad to be honest.
Earps has had the support of his team-mates, while the FA has offered to set aside part of its technical budget to try to solve the problem.
Manchester United goalkeeper named FIFA’s Best Women’s Goalkeeper for 2022
But despite his heroism between the sticks, Mail Sport understands that the Earps goalkeeper kit is not in Nike’s business strategy.
‘I checked my temperature with Leah [Williamson] At that time, Lotte [Wubben-Moy] and some of the others, and I was like “am I overreacting girls?” and they said “no, Mary, it’s totally unacceptable”. We as a group stand for inclusion and this is the complete opposite of what we stand for.
‘They were also talking about ‘why are we aligning with brands that don’t have inclusion at the center? Why is it always about the bottom line?
“I think the least that should have happened was that when someone recognized that it was wrong, they should have brought it to my attention. If no one acknowledged that it was wrong, that’s a big deal, that says it all as far as I’m concerned. It’s all just an afterthought when it comes to goalies.
Earps now received his kit late after a logistical problem meant he was given short-sleeved shirts; she prefers to wear long sleeves, for April Finalisma. The concierge claimed that she was “never asked and never consulted” about which one she preferred.
The goalkeeper was forced to launch her own range of shirts, titled MAE27, last month so fans could continue to show their support.
The goalkeeper admitted that she is inclined to encourage fans not to “waste their money” by buying a goalkeeper or men’s jersey with her name on it.
‘Part of me wants to say ‘don’t buy it, don’t waste your money’. But I also think that people should do what they want to do.’
‘I know if it were me, I couldn’t bring myself to buy it. Just for the message that I think it sends to people and I don’t think the bottom line is anyone should be rewarded for bad behavior.
“I’m thankful for anyone who does anything to show me their support, in any way.”
“Unfortunately, the best that can come out of this situation is that there is a commitment that this will not happen again.”
Nike did not respond to a request for comment.