The England goalkeeper Mary Earps’ penalty save in the Women’s World Cup final was one of the most nail-biting moments of the tournament and there was a public outcry from fans when Nike refused to sell replicas of her green jersey.
But that shouldn’t be the case for much longer after the global sports firm responded to a backlash by agreeing to retail “limited quantities” of goalkeeper jerseys for four teams it provided kits for – England, US, France and the Netherlands.
A petition in support of Earps, who won the tournament’s Golden Glove award, and “all female goalkeepers around the world” has gained more than 150,000 signatures, while the Conservative MP Tracey Crouch, a former sports minister, submitted a motion in parliament calling on Nike to release a jersey.
Rowing back on earlier comments suggesting that goalkeeper jerseys would be available only for future tournaments, a Nike spokesperson said that shirts would soon be on sale through each team’s federation website, though how many and when were not specified.
The spokesperson said: “We recognise that during the tournament we didn’t serve those fans who wished to show their passion and support to the squad’s goalkeepers. We are committed to retailing women’s goalkeeping jerseys for major tournaments in the future.”
Nike has sought to position itself as a frontrunner in women’s sport, and said it had invested more in this year’s Women’s World Cup than any other global tournament to date.
The company issued a statement after the final to say it was working towards solutions for future tournaments, prompting Earps to retort on her Instagram account: “@Nike is this your version of an apology/taking accountability/a powerful statement of intent?”
Earps, who is a European champion and Fifa’s best goalkeeper along with being vice-captain of the Lionesses and one of the team’s star players, previously described Nike’s decision not to offer replica goalkeeper jerseys as “hugely disappointing and very hurtful”.
She said: “It is the young kids I am most concerned about. They are going to say, ‘Mum, Dad, can I have a Mary Earps shirt?’ and they say, ‘I can’t, but I can get you an Alessia Russo 23 or a Rachel Daly 9.’ What you are saying is that goalkeeping isn’t important, but you can be a striker if you want. That is why the participation rate is so much lower.”
Goalkeeper jerseys are often more expensive for athletic wear brands to produce, as they tend to have a smaller fanbase and their distinctive design requires a separate manufacturing run. However, they are available for the men’s England team, and Earps pointed out that her goalkeeper shirt for Manchester United in the Women’s Super League was sold out last season.
She offered to fund the kit run herself, and has spoken with the Football Association, which she said had been supportive, and Nike, with which she said she had been “fighting behind closed doors” after the company blamed manufacturing issues for the unavailability of her kit during the Euros.
Before the World Cup, Earps was not told her kit would not be available to the public, and she found out only when the outfield kit went on sale and goalkeepers were absent from the campaign’s promotional pictures.
Adidas, which made kits for 10 teams at the tournament, and Puma, responsible for two, did not offer replica goalkeeper jerseys. However, Hummel, which made jerseys for Denmark’s national women’s team, and Castore, for Ireland, have each released replica goalkeeper jerseys.
Some fans and small retailers opted to make their own replica jerseys. Foudys, a women’s football retailer, is selling a T-shirt for £20 with the slogan “This is my keeper shirt”. Holly Collins, who illustrates T-shirts for her company HollaaaaFC, made a jersey emblazoned with the phrase “Number one, second to none” above “Mearps” with the words “Safe hands – safe heart. Mary, Queen of Shots”.
David Seaman, a former goalkeeper for Arsenal and England’s men’s national team, wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, while Earps was playing in the final:“Bet Nike are regretting not selling the #maryearps shirt now.”