England Women’s Mary Earps slams ‘hugely hurtful’ Nike for not selling her keeper shirt for commercial reasons – and reveals they brutally cut her from the photoshoot for the kit release
- Fans were unable to buy Earps’ goalkeeper kit during last summer’s Euros
- The Man United shot-stopper was told the issue would be resolved for World Cup
- But Earps, named Best FIFA Women’s Goalkeeper in 2022, has been left out again
England vice-captain Mary Earps has hit out at Nike’s ‘hugely hurtful’ decision not to put her goalkeeper shirt on sale for a second tournament running.
Fans were unable to buy Earps’ kit during last summer’s Euros but the Manchester United shot-stopper had been told the issue would be resolved ahead of the World Cup.
But Earps, who was named The Best FIFA Women’s Goalkeeper for 2022, discovered she had been left out of promotional pictures when the Lionesses World Cup kit was launched in April and that her shirt would once again not be available.
Earps raised the issue with Nike and even offered to fund the production herself but was told this would not be possible.
‘I can’t really sugarcoat this any way so I’m not going to try, it’s hugely disappointing and very hurtful,’ Earps said at England’s Brisbane hotel.
Mary Earps has hit out at Nike’s ‘hugely hurtful’ decision not to put her England goalkeeper shirt on sale for a second straight tournament
Earps was nowhere to be seen as the Lionesses’ kit for this summer’s Women’s World Cup was unveiled back in April
‘It’s something that I’ve been fighting behind closed doors. I’ve been desperately trying to find a solution with the FA and with Nike.
‘Unfortunately it’s become very evident that is not possible and there’s not going to be an acceptable solution for the young kids out there. On a personal level it’s obviously hugely hurtful, considering the last 12 months especially.
‘For my own family, friends and loved ones not to be able to buy my shirt, they’re just going to come out and wear normal clothes. All my team-mates, they’ve ordered a lot of shirts for their friends and family, they’re talking at the dinner table “I wasn’t able to get this” and I’m saying “I wasn’t able to get it at all”.
‘I know there’s a lot of people who have spent a tremendous amount of money on outfield shirts and then put ‘1 Earps’ on the back, which doesn’t sit well with me either.
‘It’s a very scary message that’s being sent to goalkeepers worldwide that “you’re not important”
‘A lesson I’ve learned is that I should have made a public statement sooner maybe. I look back on it and I’ve tried everything. I offered to fund it myself and my team-mates have been really supportive.’
Earps, pictured in her kit for the tournament, was told the issue would be resolved
Mail Sport understands that Nike do not sell women’s goalkeeper shirts because it is not part of their commercial strategy.
This includes their other clients such as the United States and co-hosts Australia. Adidas are also not selling goalkeeper shirts for teams at the World Cup.
Earps spoke passionately and at length about the damaging message she believes this sends to aspiring goalkeepers.
‘My shirt on the Manchester United website last season was sold out. It was the third best-selling shirt. So who says it’s not selling? I asked “can there be any solution? Can we make a somewhat replica shirt that can be sold to young people?”
‘Young kids are gonna say “mum, 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’re saying is that goalkeeping isn’t important but you can be a striker if you want.
‘That was my point also to Nike: we could be world leading in this area, which is something that we pride ourselves on, being first, being 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 massive portion of the fans have been truly let down by this, it makes me feel really really crap to be honest.’
Earps has had the support from her team-mates while the FA offered to set part of their technical budget aside to try and resolve the issue.
The Manchester United shot-stopper was named The Best FIFA Women’s Goalkeeper for 2022
But despite her heroics in between the sticks, Mail Sport understands Earps’ goalkeeper kit is not in Nike’s commercial strategy
‘I temperature checked it with Leah [Williamson] at the time, Lotte [Wubben-Moy] and a few of the others, and I said “am I overreacting girls?”’ and they said “no Mary, it’s totally unacceptable. We as a group stand for inclusion and this is the total opposite of what we stand for.
‘They were also talking about “why are we aligning with brands that don’t have inclusion at the centre? Why is it always about the bottom line?”
‘I think the minimum that should have happened was, when somebody recognised it was wrong, they should have brought it to my attention. If nobody recognised it was wrong, that’s a big issue – that says everything as far as I’m concerned. Everything’s just an afterthought when it comes to goalkeeping.’
Earps has now belatedly received her kit after a logistical issue meant she was given short-sleeved shirts; she prefers to wear long-sleeved, for April’s Finalissma. The goalkeeper claimed she ‘was never asked, and never consulted’ as to which she preferred.
The goalkeeper was compelled to release her own T-shirt range, titled MAE27, last month so fans could still show their support.
The goalkeeper admitted she is inclined to encourage fans not to ‘waste their money’ on buying an outfield or men’s goalkeeper shirt with her name on.
‘Part of me wants to say “don’t buy it, don’t waste your money”. But also I think people should do whatever they want to do.’
‘I know that if it was me, I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to buy it. Just because of the message I think that sends people and I don’t think anybody’s bottom line should be rewarded for bad behaviour.
‘I am grateful for anyone who does anything to show their support for me, in any way.’
‘Unfortunately, the best thing that can come out of this situation is that there’s a commitment going forward that this won’t happen again.’
Nike did not respond to a request for comment.
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