English goalkeeper Mary Earps speaks out on Nike kit fiasco
The GIST: This week, star English goalkeeper Mary Earps finally opened up about the Nike kit fiasco following the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup (WWC). ICYMI, the brand didn’t sell Earps’ jersey during the competition, but eventually listened to fan demand and watched the kit sell out immediately — twice. A teachable moment.
The mistake: England’s national team had an incredible WWC run all the way to the title match against Spain. Fans were particularly obsessed with Earps, the clutch goalkeeper who kept scores low and spirits high during the tournament. Her heroic efforts earned her FIFA’s Golden Glove award and England Women’s Player of the Year award.
- Despite the hype, Nike only offered kits of outfield players during the WWC, leaving passionate Earps fans unable to support their favorite player. While goalies may be woefully underappreciated in soccer fandom, the love for Earps was unmatched — but Nike was a little late to the party.
The public outcry: When Earps fans couldn’t buy her jersey, they took the problem all the way to Parliament. In August, over 150K people signed a teenage fan’s petition calling for Nike to release Earps’ jersey. Member of Parliament and a former sports minister, Tracey Crouch, even submitted a motion to support this request. Another stock run required.
The brand response: Nike listened to the demand from fans and, recognizing a missed opportunity, released Earps’ kit two months later. This did not come without issues, however — Nike didn’t advertise the release, but they still sold out within minutes. Earps didn’t even know the jerseys were dropping, and neither did the young fan who made it all possible.
- Earps said she believes the brand learned its lesson, stating that a major company like Nike wouldn’t address the oversight unless it too saw it as an “injustice.” She acknowledged that Nike eventually got it right thanks to the Lionesses’ dedicated supporters. Roaring applause.
The takeaway: Nike may not have anticipated that one of the WWC’s biggest stars would be a goalkeeper, but eventually pivoting was the right move from both a brand and fan perspective, even if the rollout was rocky. But to avoid the drama in the future, brands should prepare to give all team players the spotlight before tentpole moments so they can shine their brightest.