England goalkeeper Mary Earps is one of the brightest stars in Sarina Wiegman’s World Cup squad.
Her individual trophy cabinet includes the Best Female Goalkeeper at the 2023 FIFA Awards and the Golden Glove Award from the Women’s Super League last season.
Yet ahead of this summer’s tournament, Nike, the official manufacturer of the England kit, made the controversial decision not to sell a replica of her goalkeeper’s shirt to fans, blaming their ‘commercial strategy’.
So, how did Earps respond? By launching her own fashion brand, reminding fans to be proud of who they are.
The 30-year-old’s clothing range, called MAE27, so far includes two black t-shirts, one with the slogan ‘be unapologetically yourself’ and a second with the phrase ‘girls know the offside rule too’.
Both products cost £26.50, but you’ll have to wait until she restocks to buy one, because the designs have sold out ahead of the Lionesses’ first ever World Cup Final match against Spain.
Earps launched the range in June, but it’s gained more attention after Nike appeared to snub the goalie again by missing her out of an Instagram post celebrating the team’s semi-final victory.
Though she hasn’t said her clothing range was a direct response to the Nike controversy, the player did not hide her feelings about it.
‘I can’t really sugar-coat this in any way, so I am not going to try. It is hugely disappointing and very hurtful,’ she told reporters in Brisbane.
‘It is something that I have been fighting behind closed doors, I have been trying to go through the correct channels as much as possible.
‘Which is why I have not spoken on it publicly, even though I have been asked a lot about it over the past few months because I have been desperately trying to find a solution with the FA and with Nike.
‘Unfortunately, it has become very evident that is not possible and there is not going to be an acceptable solution for the young kids out there.
‘It is very, on a personal level, it is obviously hugely hurtful considering the last 12 months especially – and also I think there has been an incredible rise in goalkeeping participation over that year.’
She added: ‘For my own family and friends and loved ones not to be able to buy my shirt, like they are going to come out and wear normal clothes and I know that sounds like, “oh Mary, what a horrible problem”, but on a personal level that is really hard.
‘All my teammates have ordered a lot of shirts for their friends and family. They are talking about it at the dinner table: ‘Oh, I wasn’t able to get this.’ And I’m thinking: ‘I can’t get it at all.’ There are a lot of people who have spent a tremendous amount of money on outfield shirts and then put a number one and Earps on the back, which doesn’t sit well with me either.
‘Millie [Bright] spoke to me [a while ago] and said: ‘My niece is desperate to get your shirt, where can I get it?’ I was like: ‘You can’t, it doesn’t exist.’ That is a huge problem and it is a scary message that is being sent to goalkeepers worldwide, that you are not important.’
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