England legend hits out at 'disgrace' of Mary Earps shirt debacle

Former England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis has described Nike’s decision not to sell Mary Earps’ national shirt as ‘a disgrace.’

The 30-year-old prove was integral in the Lionesses’ first clash of the tournament against Haiti.

Ahead of the tournament, Earps was crowned the world’s best goalkeeper at the 2022 FIFA Best awards in February.

But as the Women’s World Cup kicked off, fans were unable to show their support by donning her replica shirt for the national team.

A commercial decision by kit manufacturer Nike meant it wasn’t made available to purchase, which Earps described as ‘hurtful’.

For Rachel Brown-Finnis, a trailblazing goalkeeper of the women’s game, the news was painful to hear.

She told Metro: ‘It is hurtful, sexist and undermining. It also represents an ever-present lack of respect for goalkeepers.

‘We’re in a time in women’s football when goalkeeping has never been better and for Mary Earps – the number one women’s goalkeeper – to not have access to her own shirt is a disgrace.’

Earps was the third best-selling shirt for Manchester United Women last season, which has added to confusion as to why her strip wasn’t seen as a financially viable choice for Nike.

Rachel added: ‘Why are these decisions being made in the first place, what bias is taking place in these discussions?

‘We need to be asking these questions.’

Rachel, who made 80 appearances for England, is part of the BBC’s pundit team for the tournament.

Watching England’s first match wasn’t particularly inspiring, but the squad – badly hit by injuries – has room to grow.

She continued: ‘There wasn’t a huge amount to get excited about after England’s game, they ground out results and they got the three points.

‘Those three points were solidified by the saves of Mary Earps and she embodied all the reasons why she was selected as the world’s best goalkeeper.

‘Her concentration, her execution in big moments, her attachment to the backline – she’s so important to the team. They wouldn’t have got three points without her, end of.’

The Lionesses need to keep grounded as they progress through the group stage, Rachel added.

While Earps will no doubt be a safe pair of hands, a ‘creative’ England will need to adapt to new challenges.

The Lionesses legend has joined the likes of Steph Houghton and Fara Williams in BBC’s punditry team for this year’s Women’s World Cup.

She spoke with Metro after overseeing Australia and Nigeria’s nail-biting match yesterday, which saw the Super Falcons triumph over the co-hosts.

For the Matildas to guarantee a spot in the final 16, a return of their star player Sam Kerr is needed.

But the Chelsea forward picked up an injury in the days leading up the World Cup, with her reappearance in the squad uncertain.

Rachel continued: ‘My initial instinct when I saw the injury news, was that it won’t be just a week that she’s out.

‘I think Australia was hoping they’d be home and dry after the group stages but, clearly, that’s not the case.

‘I’d hedge my bets to say we would see her in that game. Whether it’s starting, probably not, but she’ll be coming off the bench if needed.

‘She will tape herself up, take whatever legal drugs she can take, she’ll be desperate to get out there.’

Spain, Brazil and the ‘unstoppable’ Germany have all stood out for Rachel so far in the group stages of the Women’s World Cup.

Meanwhile, other teams simply ‘haven’t showed up.’

She continued: ‘I was excited to see Norway’s response from such a disappointing Euros. I’ve been absolutely massively underwhelmed by watching them so far.

‘There’s no cohesion whatsoever.

‘There seems to be a real rift between the players, whether that’s the personalities, the difference in how a team wants to play and the styles – I’m not sure what the reason is.

‘Ultimately, the blame has to lie with the manager.’

Rachel made 80 appearances for England and played for Liverpool Women and Everton Women at club level.

She donned her gloves in the Women’s Euro 2001 and 2005, as well as the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup in China.

In 2009, she became one of the first female players to be given a central contract by the FA, a groundbreaking moment for women’s football in this country.

Seeing history continue to be made with the current pack of Lionesses is ’emotional’ for her to witness.

Rachel added: ‘I’ve been smiling from day one of punditry for the World Cup.

‘We’ve got Sue Smith on commentary with Alex Scott, Steph Houghton, Fara Williams, Ellen White and myself as pundits.

‘It’s like a reunion. Not only is it a joy to see these players in person but it’s a testament to how far women’s football has come with the viewership and opportunities available.

‘The appetite for women’s sport in general has never been as big.

‘That makes us all know that we’ve been a big part of that as Lionesses and it makes us all really proud.’

You can follow BBC Sport’s FIFA Women’s World Cup coverage across BBC television, BBC iPlayer & BBC Sounds. 

Nike was contacted by Metro.co.uk for comment regarding the Mary Earps shirtsituation.

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