For anyone unaware of the ongoing scandal, there has been a massive outcry within women’s football and beyond after Nike, who manufacture the kits for both the Three Lions and England’s women’s team, confirmed that they would not be selling the female keeper kits for the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
Or any nation’s for that matter; 13 of the 32 teams competing in this year’s tournament wear kits made by Nike and yet the sportswear giant hasn’t made any of the countries’ goalkeeper kits available to buy, despite the interest in the women’s game being greater than ever — especially, here in the UK.
As a result, parents, little girls and football fans all around the country have been pleading for the brand to put her shirts, along with all the other ones, and to not only recognise her achievements at club level but in a showing of solidarity too, United fans have erected this massive mural right near the stadium.
Making the decision way back in April, Mary Earps has been at the forefront of campaigning for Nike to stock the shirts and reportedly even offered to cover the costs herself but the company has said it is not part of their “commercial strategy“.
Speaking ahead of the Lionesses’ opening win against Haiti, Earps told reporters, “I can’t really sugar-coat this in any way, so I am not going to try. It is hugely disappointing and very hurtful.”
Explaining how England captain Mille Bright told her, “My niece is desperate to get your shirt, where can I get it?” and how she simply had to reply, “You can’t, it doesn’t exist.”, she said, “That is a huge problem and it is a scary message that is being sent to goalkeepers worldwide, that you are not important.
Having been voted FIFA’s Best Women’s Goalkeeper for 2022 and played a huge part in the Lionesses’ historic Euro 2022 triumph, Earps right went on to add: “My shirt on the Manchester United website was sold out last season. It was the third-best-selling shirt, so who says it is not selling?”
Earps went on to add: “It’s the young kids I am most concerned about. They’re going to say, ‘Mum, Dad, can I have a Mary Earps shirt?’ and they say, ‘No, but I can get you an Alessia Russo 23 or a Rachel Daly 9.’ What you’re saying is that goalkeeping isn’t important but you can be a striker if you want.
“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 ‘…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.”
The 30-year-old Nottingham-born shot-stopper insisted it’s something she has been working on behind the scenes ever since the Euros, when the excuses she was given were, “It was Covid, manufacturing issues”, and yet there has still been little progress even with people putting pressure on the FA.
Earps admitted that she perhaps should have made a public statement earlier but said that even she had to check with her teammates that she wasn’t overreacting at which point they assured: “No, it’s absolutely unacceptable. We stand for inclusion and this is the total opposite of that. Why are we aligning with brands that don’t have inclusion at the centre? Why is it always about the bottom line?”
“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”, said Earps. “On a personal level, it is hugely hurtful considering the last 12 months especially. There has been an incredible rise in goalkeeping participation.”
From a fan perspective, they aren’t letting up and an official Change.org petition to sell Mary Earps England shirts both online and in shops has been set up. Presenter Laura Woods has also rallied behind the campaign, labelling Mary “one of [her] favourite England players” and the decision not to stock her kit “very weird“.
The game is and has always been for everyone; no football fan, be it a little girl who dreams of being a goalie, a die-hard England fan or otherwise, should be made unable to wear their favourite player’s number and name on their back.
As echoed by the Lionesses themselves, it’s not even just about player representation either: it’s about equality for everyone and making sure little girls like Isabel can go out after school or on a weekend, pull on their favourite player’s shirt, feel like a footballer and like they can go and live our their dream.
Featured Image — Mary Earps (via Twitter)/The Manc Group
Manchester United issue response after banning Manchester Evening News and select journalists from press conference
The Manchester Evening News (MEN) along with a number of sports journalists have reportedly been banned from attending a Manchester United press conference after publishing a story on an apparent rift at the club, claiming that manager Erik ten Hag has ‘lost the dressing room’.
Citing the reason behind the ban as being due to Chief Man United Writer and well-known sports reporter, Samuel Luckhurst’s recent story, which claimed that ten Hag is “losing the confidence” of his players, he and at least three other journalists won’t be in attendance after Sky Sports went so far as to suggest as much as “50%” of the dressing room.
It is thought that Sky‘s chief reporter Kaveh Solekhol, David McDonnell of The Mirror and ESPN‘s Rob Dawson are among the other individuals to have been barred from joining this afternoon’s presser as per instruction from United‘s Director of Media Relations and Public Affairs, Andrew Ward.
Issuing a statement to The Manc and journalists across the country, the club said: “We’re taking action against a number of news organisations today, not for publishing stories we don’t like, but for doing so without contacting us first to give us the opportunity to comment, challenge or contextualise.
“We believe this is an important principle to defend and we hope it can lead to a re-set in the way we work together.” It is unclear how long the suspension is set to be upheld but it is likely they will only serve a one-match ban — pardon the pun.
The MEN reiterated that the initial story was “multiply-sourced”, adding that they had not been banned as a result of previous stories that were largely seen as critical of the Man United head coach and/or his squad, including prior claims players were starting to “doubt” his tactics and managerial style.
Furthermore, the outlet goes on to state that several other journalists have claimed they were prevented from asking questions in press conferences by Ward in the past “over perceived negative coverage”, adding that the club have expressed their “regret” over having to issue the ban. The move has been welcomed by many fans, with several saying it is reminiscent of Sir Alex Ferguson’s hardline approach to the media.
Man United have made one of their worst starts to a campaign in decades and, despite winning their first trophy in six years under the Dutchman with an EFL Cup win last season, have unfortunately been breaking all manner of unwanted records of late.
ten Hag’s team suffered another disappointing loss against Newcastle at the end of November and now face another tricky task as they prepare to face a Chelsea side who are starting to gather some semblance of form.
Countless Reds and neutrals alike will no doubt now be tuning in for his pre-match press conference at 1:30pm ahead of the mid-week Premier League fixture against the West Londoners on Wednesday night (8:15pm kick-off).
The former Ajax manager has made no secret of the troubles he faced when he first arrived at Old Trafford but is clearly keen to avoid others from airing any of their rumoured dirty laundry.
Featured Images — The Manc Group/Manchester United
Manchester United are once again opening up Old Trafford and Red Café for ‘Warm Hub’ evenings
Manchester United are once again opening their doors to people in need this winter as they kick off the 2023 season of ‘Warm Hub’ evenings at Old Trafford.
The community support initiative is returning after the success of last year’s campaign which welcomed locals through the doors to Man United’s iconic home ground and the attached Red Café, helping thousands stay warm, grab a hot drink and a snack, as well as socialise with others.
Focusing on those vulnerable during the colder months, as well as those who might feel worried or lonely during the festive period, United‘s Warm Hubs proved to be a truly impactful resource to many Mancunians in 2022 and will no doubt do the same this year.
Starting from Monday, 4 December and repeating every week right through until January, the area will be available to everyone and completely free, staying open from 5-8pm every session.
To sign up for the Warm Hub evenings — part of the wider ‘United By Your Side’ campaign — people can arrive at Old Trafford and register via the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand reception and will then be guided into the Red Café where they can grab a brew and something to eat.
Completely open to the public, the United Foundation will also be delivering a multi-layered approach to support the local community this time around, hoping to be an even more vital outlet to people around Greater Manchester than ever.
In addition to the obvious physical benefits of the warm space, the club want the ground to be a welcoming place for those looking for social connection over the holidays and beyond to spend time with others in friendly and safe surroundings.
As a charity supporting children and young people, the Foundation has focused its efforts on supporting families amidst the cost-of-living crisis after participants from its Youth Voice groups expressed concerns over being cold during the winter months.
As a result, the Foundation has now invested more than £100,000 in over 22,000 warm clothing items for every young person across its 77 partner schools in Greater Manchester and beyond, including hats, gloves, scarves, blankets and more.
These items have complemented the winter coats that were distributed earlier this year, following the matchday appeal that was held ahead of the Brentford fixture in October at Old Trafford — a brilliant drive that the club is also hoping to continue.
Donations from fans, club staff and men’s and women’s team players have also led to more than 2,000 coats being received, all of which have since been redistributed to identified families in need, local poverty charities and a charity in Ukraine. Heartwarming stuff.
Similarly, more than 200 shoeboxes – received thanks to Manchester United and Foundation staff – will be handed out to identified children as gifts ahead of the festive season.
Speaking on the return of the scheme, United’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) Collette Roche, said: “We want people who are struggling to know that they are not alone, particularly in our local community…
“Sadly, we also know many of our young people will be facing challenges during the winter period and we hope by providing them with some warm winter clothing or a Christmas gift through the Foundation’s great work we will bring some joy and support to those in need.”
Children under 16 attending this year’s sessions must be accompanied by a parent or guardian over the age of 16. The last warm hub evening of 2023 will be taking place on 18 December and will resume again in the New Year from 8 January until the last Monday of the month (29 January).