Sports apparel giant Nike has come under fire for its delayed release of a replica jersey for England goalkeeper Mary Earps. The popular Women’s World Cup finalist, who was voted England Women’s Player of the Year last month, had her jersey made available for purchase only recently on Monday, eliciting widespread criticism from fans and enthusiasts alike. Nike’s decision to withhold the jersey during the tournament sparked outrage, with more than 170,000 people signing a Change.org petition urging the company to rectify the situation.
According to an Instagram story by Earps herself, she was not notified in advance about the release of the jerseys. This lack of communication by Nike raises questions about their commitment to supporting and promoting women’s football. Fans expressed their disappointment through social media, voicing their frustrations and highlighting the company’s failure to recognize the market demand for jerseys of women players.
Despite claiming that the jerseys sold out on the same day they were released, Nike did not offer any specifics regarding the quantity sold or why the shirts are not currently available on their website or through the England Football Association’s website. This lack of transparency further fueled the dissatisfaction among fans and raised suspicions about whether Nike deliberately limited the supply to create artificial demand.
In response to the criticism, Nike stated that “more will be for sale later this season.” However, the delayed release raises concerns about whether Nike is genuinely dedicated to promoting women’s football, or if it is simply trying to capitalize on the success of the Women’s World Cup to generate additional revenue.
Nike’s decision to prioritize the production of the men’s goalkeeper jersey over the women’s during the Women’s World Cup is particularly telling. While the men’s jersey was readily available for purchase, the absence of the women’s jersey underscored Nike’s unequal treatment of male and female athletes.
Sports sponsorships play a crucial role in driving sales for apparel manufacturers like Nike. The success and popularity of women’s football have been steadily growing. However, the delayed release of Mary Earps’ jersey highlights the discrepancy in how Nike values and promotes female athletes compared to their male counterparts. This unequal treatment not only harms the players but also sends a disheartening message to young girls who aspire to play professional football.
Nike’s delayed release of Mary Earps’ jersey represents a missed opportunity for the company to demonstrate its commitment to gender equality and celebrate the success of women in sports. By failing to provide equal representation and support for women athletes, Nike perpetuates gender stereotypes and reinforces the notion that women’s football is secondary to men’s.
As fans and supporters continue to voice their disappointment and demand change, it is crucial for Nike and other apparel manufacturers to recognize the significance of gender equality in sports and take concrete actions to rectify the disparities in their treatment of male and female athletes.