England goalkeeper Mary Earps has expressed her dismay over the “very hurtful” decision not to put her replica shirt on sale ahead of the World Cup.
The Manchester United star was named the world’s best goalkeeper in women’s football by FIFA in February, and was also appointed vice-captain by England boss Sarina Wiegman for this global showpiece.
Earps claimed she only realised her shirt would not be made available by manufacturer Nike in April, and said she has since been “fighting behind closed doors” to find a solution before England open their campaign on Saturday against Haiti but to no avail.
The Euro 2022 champion said: “I can’t really sugar-coat this in any way, so I am not going to try. It is hugely disappointing and very hurtful.
That GK life.
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“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.
“I go into grassroots clubs and I am asked to bribe people to go into goal, and I have been to more clubs recently and that’s not been the case.
“A lot of that has come off the back of the Euros but also some of my success this year.
“For my own family and friends and loved ones not to be able to buy my shirt, 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.
“You know, (England captain) Millie (Bright) spoke to me a couple of weeks ago or maybe a bit longer and said: ‘Mary, my niece is desperate to get your shirt, where can I get it?’. I was like: ‘Yeah you can’t, it doesn’t exist’.
“I think that is a huge problem, and I think it is a scary message that is being sent to goalkeepers worldwide that you are not important.
“(Kids) are going to say: ‘Mum, dad, can I have a Mary Earps shirt?’ And they say: ‘I can’t but I can get you an Alessia Russo 23 or a Rachel Daly 9.’ And so what you are saying is that goalkeeping isn’t important but you can be a striker if you want.”
England men’s keeper Jordan Pickford also does not have a replica goalkeeper shirt available for purchase on the England store.
Earps claimed she offered to fund the shirts herself and that the Football Association (FA) has supported her efforts, but said she was ultimately forced to produce her own limited edition t-shirt because she at the very least “wanted to create something that people could have for themselves” at the World Cup.
The PA news agency understands that while the FA is involved in the design of England kits, the manufacturer ultimately determines the commercial direction of what is produced.
PA has contacted Nike for comment.