Infuriated fans who wanted to show support for England’s Women’s World Cup goalkeeper Mary Earps are vindicated. Replicas of her jersey will finally be released by official kit supplier Nike.
The sportswear giant came under fire after soccer fans were unable to buy the jersey backing Earps, who eventually took home the Golden Glove from the tournament, the highest individual accolade her position can win.
After more than 150,000 supporters petitioned Nike—and Earps criticized the global behemoth herself—it finally listened.
Nike has now said it will sell a “limited number” of replicas of the Lioness goalkeeper’s jersey—four days after the tournament concluded.
“Nike has secured limited quantities of goalkeeper jerseys for England, U.S., France, and the Netherlands to be sold through the Federation websites over the coming days,” a Nike spokesperson said in a statement to Fortune, referring to governing body FIFA’s members.
The Oregon-based manufacturer, which supplies and sells merchandise for England’s men’s and women’s national teams, made jerseys for all the outfield players and even the men’s goalkeeper, but left Earps out.
She called the move “hugely disappointing and hurtful” in a July interview with The Guardian.
Following the World Cup finals last week, which Spain won 1-0, Nike issued a statement saying it was trying to find a solution to sell Earps jerseys. The goalie hit back on Instagram: “@Nike is this your version of an apology/taking accountability/a powerful statement of intent?”
According to Earps, Nike’s decision to not sell the jersey during the tournament undermined the role of goalkeepers in women’s football.
Fans’ fight for the Earps jersey
Pressure on Nike began building on social media following the final last Sunday when the 30-year-old consolidated her position as a national treasure.
On X—formerly known as Twitter—one fan wrote: “My 10-year-old daughter is the goalie in her school team. She’s just gone online to buy a jersey for next year and wanted one like Mary Earps’s only to find Nike don’t do one. ’That’s a bit stupid’ she said. She’s right.”
My 10 year old daughter is the goalie in her school team.She’s just gone online to buy a jersey for next year and wanted one like Mary Earps’s only to find Nike don’t do one.“That’s a bit stupid” she said. She’s right, isn’t she @nikefootball @Nike @EnglandFootball
— Nick O’Donnell (@gnickodonnell) August 20, 2023
Another added: “I still can’t believe Nike refused to print & stock Mary Earps’s jersey, she’s in the Fifa Women’s World Cup final & we can’t buy her jersey, absolutely insane.”
I still can’t believe Nike refused to print & stock Mary Earps jersey, she’s in the Fifa Women’s World Cup final & we can’t buy her jersey, absolutely insane. #FIFAWWC
— Nguvi (@nguvi_) August 20, 2023
Top British politicians, as well as fellow pro footballer Beth Mead, also piled in to voice their support for the English goalie.
For its part, Nike said it supports and shares “the unprecedented passion and interest” that the women’s tournament received.
The company told Fortune it had spent more money on the 2023 iteration than in any global tournament to date, but acknowledged its delay in catering to fans.
“We recognize 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 said.
A common issue
Jerseys for goalkeepers can be expensive for brands to make as the pool of fans is often smaller and the manufacturing process is different from other jerseys.
When Nike cited similar reasons, Earps said she had been “fighting behind closed doors” to make her jersey replicas available.
Nike lost earnings potential following the exit of the U.S. women’s team early in the World Cup, but England’s success in making it to the finals helped make up for it.
Other women’s national team kit suppliers including Puma and Adidas also didn’t make goalkeeper jerseys, though Denmark’s Hummel and Ireland’s Castore did see their merch go on sale.
Manchester United, the football club Earps plays for, said in a statement Thursday that ‘Earps No. 27’ jerseys (sold by Adidas) are the second-best-selling women’s replica tee-shirts this season.