The debate over Nike’s decision not to manufacture replica goalkeeper shirts for the Women’s World Cup has intensified, with Manchester United and England goalkeeper Mary Earps hitting out at Nike’s most recent statement on the issue.
The row began before the tournament when the sportswear manufacturer said “producing new women’s goalkeeper kits for the public is not part of Nike’s commercial strategy.”
Earps spoke out at the time expressing her disappointment.
“All my team-mates have ordered a lot of shirts for their friends and family,” she complained. “They were talking about it at the dinner table, saying ‘oh I wasn’t able to get this’. And I’m thinking, ‘I can’t get it at all’.”
She added, “On a personal level, it is hugely hurtful. There has been an incredible rise in goalkeeping participation.”
Earps even offered to cover the manufacturing costs but did not receive a positive response.
A petition for Nike to reverse their decision reached 80,000 signatures since the tournament began.
This has forced Nike to issue a new statement which reads, “Nike is committed to women’s football and we’re excited by the passion around this year’s tournament and the incredible win by the Lionesses to make it into the final.
“We are proudly offering the best of Nike innovation and services to our federation partners and hundreds of athletes. We hear and understand the desire for a retail version of a goalkeeper jersey and we are working towards solutions for future tournaments, in partnership with Fifa and the federations.
“The fact that there’s a conversation on this topic is testament to the continued passion and energy around the women’s game and we believe that’s encouraging.”
On her Instagram story, Earps responded, “Is this your version of an apology/taking accountability/a powerful statement of intent?”
Meanwhile, on Facebook she thanked fans for the petition and their continued support.
The United shot-stopper’s shirt was the most sought after before the tournament began.
Looking at worldwide searches online for shirts for the Women’s World Cup in July 2023, the England keeper saw 8,100 people worldwide search for her shirt, with the second most in-demand being USA star Megan Rapinoe’s shirt, with 2,900 searches that month.
Nike surely was not expecting the backlash they have received from this decision but this latest statement is clearly not sufficient and, rightly, Earps dispute with the sportswear giant continues.