Hurtful that fans can

Mary Earps
Earps has made 34 appearances for England since her debut in 2017
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England goalkeeper Mary Earps says it is “hurtful” that fans cannot buy a replica of her goalkeeper shirt.

The 30-year-old was named the world’s top goalkeeper at last year’s Fifa Best awards following the Lionesses’ win in the European Championship that summer.

England’s kit for this summer’s World Cup is manufactured by Nike.

“Millie [Bright] said ‘my niece is desperate to get your shirt, where can I get it?’ and I was like, ‘you can’t’,” Earps said.

“All my team-mates have ordered a lot of shirts for their friends and family.

“They were talking about it at the dinner table, saying ‘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.”

Replicas of Earps’ kit with Manchester United, who she plays for in the Women’s Super League, sold out last season.

It has been reported that producing new women’s goalkeeper kits for the public is not part of Nike’s commercial strategy.external-link

The England home and away shirts are available to buy in men’s, women’s and children’s sizes and retail at £79.95 for an adults and £59.95 for kids.

A replica of the men’s England goalkeeper shirt is not available on the England Store but is available with other outlets.

Earps says she was not told her kit would not be available to the public and only found out when the outfield kit went on sale.

Mary Earps makes a save
Mary Earps was selected for the 2019 World Cup squad but did not make an appearance

“For my own family and friends and loved ones not to be able to buy my shirt, I know that sounds like ‘oh Mary, what a horrible problem’, but on a personal level that is really hard,” Earps added.

“I have been trying to go through the correct channels as much as possible, which is why I have not spoken on it publicly.

“On a personal level, it is hugely hurtful. There has been an incredible rise in goalkeeping participation.”

Earps started every game as the Lionesses won Euro 2022 and became the first goalkeeper to keep 50 clean sheets in the Women’s Super League earlier this year.

She said she had spoken to her team-mates about the issue and that they were also disappointed by the situation.

“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 added.

Former goalkeeper Karen Bardsley, who won 81 caps for England, told the BBC she feels the problem is part of a wider issue.

“It has been a common theme for as long as I can remember,” said the 38-year-old ex-Manchester City player.

“There are only very few moments I think where my shirt was available in very specific shops and maybe one or two times where it was available online, but very fleeting.

“I think it speaks of a bigger picture around the position and how well it’s valued in the game itself – I think it is massively undervalued.”

BBC Sport has contacted Nike for comment. The Football Association declined to comment.

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