Imagine being one of the preeminent football kit manufacturers on the planet and bagging the
rights to produce the kit for the Lionesses ahead of the World Cup.
A nation gripped by football with a women’s team that is on the verge of greatness after a glorious few years leading into the tournament.
What an opportunity!
Especially when one of the most high profile players in the side and indeed in the world will be
front and centre as a goalkeeper – they always are, there are ALWAYS penalties at some point,
a chance for a goalkeeper to make history and become an icon.
Even better when that goalkeeper already has a positive media profile, plays for Manchester
United and won the Best Fifa Women’s Goalkeeper last year.
Talk about an open-goal and a shot at reflected glory!
You could be Nike, named for the “goddess of victory” if you like your mythology.
If you are Nike, you can’t be bothered making it.
Not worth it.
Now, let’s be clear, England’s women just failed at the final hurdle BUT Nike fell at the very first
when they decided against making a goalkeeper’s kit.
Mary Earps was already a household-name for folk who follow women’s football even
Now, after a string of superb performances including saving a penalty in the final and the small
matter of winning the “Golden Glove” award to go with her FIFA accolade from last year she is a
bigger brand than ever.
Her star is shining brightly. As for Nike, well, it is properly tarnished. Mary herself was refreshingly forthright about the mess when she was asked about it leading
into the tournament;
‘I can’t really sugarcoat this any way so I’m not going to try, it’s hugely disappointing and very
‘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”.
There have been renewed calls for Nike to start producing the shirt but they appear to not be
heard so far.
Here’s what Nike had to say;
‘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.’
Except if you are “hearing” it Nike, you are still ignoring it. Also, the “conversation” is pretty
much one that is pointing the finger at you for failing to back the sport in the best way possible.
Mary makes a great point about it not sitting well with her and tactfully makes it not about her
but about the goalkeeping position and the game;
‘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”. It’s something that I’ve
been fighting behind closed doors. I’ve been desperately trying to find a solution with the FA and
Not only goalkeepers, but women’s football. Let’s be blunt, this wouldn’t happen with Nike for
the men’s team.
There will be waffle about not setting precedents but maybe, just maybe, Nike should swallow
their pride, take a bravery pill and their own advice and Just. Do it.