Despite trying to smooth over any ripples, Nike have released a statement stating they will not be changing their position and releasing a Mary Earps England World Cup kit. Now this isn’t a decision just against Mary, Nike do not sell goalkeeper replica kits for either the England women or men’s teams which they list as a commercial decision.
Last month Mary drew attention to the shirt being unavailable and cited that she’d tried to privately finance the shirt and work with Nike to make it available to purchase. She spoke about the dangerous tone this set towards devaluing goalkeepers and also failing to harness the next generation’s interest.
Summed up by Louis Hobbs wrote for Hatch: “Looking at the brands who have really missed the mark this summer, England’s official kit manufacturer, Nike arguably scored the biggest own goal of the tournament. For the second tournament running, England goalkeeper Mary Earps was left out of the promotional pictures when the Lionesses World Cup kit was launched due to her shirt once again not being available for fans to buy.”
Nike initially stayed fairly quiet about this, pointing back to how this is not a gendered point, just a blank commercial policy that they do not sell national goalkeeper kits.
Since this was made public, a petition has been launched, looking to apply pressure to Nike with over 89,000 signatures with many sharing their personal stories behind the inspiration Mary has become.
Taking the heat out of this debate, and bringing it back to strictly commercial margins, the unavailability of the Golden Glove winners’ shirt is just not smart business. Last season her shirt sold out on the Man United website as reported by the Mirror. Not only this, but it was the third best-selling shirt on the website, so the demand is clearly there.
On Sunday Nike released a statement: “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.”
Whilst the statement is hopeful for the future, it lacks a real understanding of the momentum and passion behind this issue. They’ve doubled down and stuck to the decision not to sell the shirt, instead of swallowing a bit of pride and giving the people what they want.
With Google Trends showing that in the past year searches for ‘Mary Earps Shirt’ have risen and astonishing 3233%, Nike had the opportunity to make a real difference here, meet commercial demand and change the path. Whilst saying throughout this is not about gender, they had an opportunity for the first commercial goalkeeper kit they sold, to be that with a powerful and inspirational women’s name on the back.
What Nike should have done is get the kit online, make it a limited run if they’re concerned about a lack of interest, launch a media storm with photos of Mary’s World Cup highlights modeling the kit and donated a portion of the profits from the shirt sales to help fund goal keeping kit and training for the next generation.
Just do it, Nike.