Football fans reacted with glee today after Nike backed down on their controversial decision not to tell replicas of goalkeeper Mary Earps’ World Cup shirt.
The sportswear manufacturer had been fiercely criticised for refusing to sell the shirt worn by Lioness heroine Earps – as well as the goalkeepers of the United States, France and Holland – by fans, players and even the British government.
A petition against the ‘commercial decision’ not to stock goalkeeper kits has reached 150,000 signatures as well as support from high-profile figures such as David Beckham.
Earps, dubbed ‘Mary Queen of Stops’ after her penalty save in the World Cup final, is among the stars to have slammed Nike for failing to do so.
But the company performed a u-turn earlier today, with a spokesperson telling Mail Sport that they had ‘secured limited quantities of the jerseys to be sold through the federation websites over the coming days, and we are also in conversations with our other federation partners’.
Mary Earps’ replica England goalkeeper shirt will now be available, Nike said on Thursday
Reacting to the news, many fans were jubilant but some did question why only ‘limited quantities’ will be produced and urged people to buy the shirts so they quickly sell out
On Monday Beckham congratulated Earps on Instagram for being awarded the Golden Glove as the best keeper in the Women’s World Cup.
Friends of Beckham told the Mail he did it intentionally to make clear their decision to not sell the shirts was ‘not the right one’. One source said: ‘What are young girls going to think? Mary has been a superstar, she’s England’s goalkeeper but she is also the best in the world.
‘David noticed that and wanted to make the point and support Mary. She deserves to have her shirt sold.’
There has been speculation that Earps could be in line to become an ambassador for rival Adidas.
Reacting to the news, many fans were jubilant but some did question why only ‘limited quantities’ will be produced and urged people to buy the shirts so they quickly sell out.
One said: ‘Right gang let’s get ordering! Limited quantities… let’s make them rethink that idea too.’
Another wrote: ‘About time!! Hope a quick sell-out will show that these need to be made regularly and in vast quantities. Can’t believe the World Cup has ended and we’re only just getting it.’
A third said: ‘The next way to make a statement is for it to sell out in minutes. Nike claim they don’t plan to sell it as the demand isn’t there. Show them that it is and they won’t turn down the prospect of more money.’
A fourth said that the fact that Nike will only sell them in ‘limited quantities’ is ‘still upsetting’.
A fifth said: ‘No, no, no… please sell them by the truckload!!!’.
The fashion giant came in for criticism even before the tournament started when it became apparent Earps’ replica shirts would not be available.
Desperate fans even resorted to making their own Earps shirts and the petition, set up by a teenage fan of the Manchester United star, quickly gained traction.
The 30-year-old Lioness was hailed as a standout heroine of England’s World Cup final Spain on Sunday, which later saw her being awarded the coveted Golden Glove, recognising her as the best keeper of the tournament.
Another fan said today: ‘Nike may be listening, but there’s lots left to be desired from their actions.
‘Mary Earps deserves so much more. She deserves an infinite amount of shirts available for little boys and girls (and adults like me!) to buy.
Their thoughts were echoed by another social media user, who said: ‘The fact @nikefootball is only gonna sell them in ‘limited quantities’ is still upsetting.
‘I don’t see the reason why they can’t be sold the same as any other shirt.’
A third demanded: ‘Please sell them by the truckload!!!’
Earps savaged Nike after the company initially released a statement that defended the their decision amid the backlash.
After Sunday’s final, which Spain won 1-0, Nike said: ‘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.
Many social media users questioned why the shirts will only be made in ‘limited quantities’
Earps had earlier hit back at the company on Instagram after the release of a statement from Nike
A petition was launched by a fan of Earps in response to Nike’s refusal to sell her shirt
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‘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.’
But on Tuesday afternoon, Earps posted a screenshot of the statement on her Instagram stories, adding the comment: ‘@Nike is this your version of an apology/taking accountability/a powerful statement of intent?’
In a following post, Earps provided a link to the change.org petition that started in July.
Beth Mead, who missed the World Cup through injury, also criticised Nike. She told BBC Sport: ‘She’s the best in the world right now, and she doesn’t have a jersey.
The Man United star won the golden glove at this year’s World Cup, despite England losing out in the final to Spain
Earps saved a penalty from Spain’s Jennifer Hermoso during the World Cup final on Sunday
‘She doesn’t have a shirt that young boys and girls can buy.’
In a sly dig at the fashion giant following Sunday’s final in Sydney, Australia, former England men’s keeper David Seaman tweeted: ‘Bet @Nike are regretting not selling the #MaryEarps shirt now.’
Earps discovered she had been left out of promotional pictures when the Lionesses World Cup kit was launched in April and that her shirt would not be available.
The Man United keeper raised the issue with Nike and even offered to fund the production herself but was told this would not be possible.
The England goalie, whose roaring ‘f*** off’ after she saved Jennifer Hermoso’s penalty became a standout moment from the final, slammed Nike’s ‘hugely hurtful’ decision not to stock replicas of her shirt for fans to buy.
Nike sold replica goalkeeper kits for four of the men’s sides at the World Cup in November and December.
Adidas did also not offer replica ‘keeper shirts but Hummel and Castore did for Denmark and Ireland, respectively.