Nike, the global sportswear giant, has reversed its decision not to sell replica shirts of England women's goalkeeper Mary Earps after facing a public backlash and a petition signed by more than 160,000 people. The petition was started by a 16-year-old fan girl named Emmy from Northamptonshire who wanted to show her support for her icon.
Before the World Cup, Lionesses star Mary Earps said she found it "hurtful" that fans could only buy outfield players' shirts and not hers. Earps led the Lionesses to their first-ever World Cup final and won the Golden Glove for her amazing tournament. Although England lost the final against Spain, Earps was among the only bright stars, as she saved a penalty to give them some hope.
Emmy said she was "amazed" by Nike's U-turn and hoped to get her hands on one of the limited quantities of goalkeeper jerseys that the company said it would sell through the federation websites. The teen explained: 'I think after we read the article [in which] Mary spoke...about how upset she felt herself...we felt like we had to do something.”
She added, “I like to show as much appreciation and support to the players who are making the women's game what it is today, and to think that Mary wasn't able to see our support, without her fans in the stands wearing her shirt...made me upset to think she's felt left out.”
In the statement released by the brand announcing it would sell the kit, Nike stated, “Nike has secured limited quantities of goalkeeper jerseys for England, the US, France, and the Netherlands to be sold through the federation websites over the coming days, and we are also in conversations with our other federation partners. 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.”
It has been a topic of debate among fans and experts alike that in both Women’s and men’s football, goalkeepers are heavily undervalued. Its proof can be seen in the Ballon d’Or lists throughout the years, as Lev Yashin was the only goalkeeper ever to win the coveted award in 1963. It's high time that the football community acknowledges a goalkeeper's contribution to the team's success.