Matildas hero weighs in on kit snub that ‘hurt’ England’s No.1: ‘That would be cool’

Mackenzie Arnold will forever be an Australian footballing icon after making three saves in a World Cup quarter-final shootout against France – but as of today, it’s impossible to buy a replica of the Matildas kit she became a hero in.

Kit manufacturer Nike opted against producing replica goalkeeper kits for the general public to purchase at the 2023 Women’s World Cup. Of the 32 countries involved in the tournament, 13 had their kits designed by Nike.

Adidas have also produced replica kits for outfield players at the World Cup, but not for goalkeepers in the squads.

Two of those nations represented by Nike are Australia and England, who will collide in the semi-finals of the World Cup at Stadium Australia on Wednesday night, pitting two of the tournament’s best-performing keepers against one another: Arnold of the Matildas, and Mary Earps of the Lionesses.

On the eve of the tournament, Earps said it was “hugely disappointing and very hurtful” when she discovered replica goalkeeper kits would not be produced by Nike for the tournament.

As Australia prepare to meet England in the semi-finals, Arnold was asked for her opinion on Earps’ comments, and whether she’d like fans of women’s national teams to have the option of purchasing replica kits of their goalkeeping heroes.

“Yeah, for sure,” she said. “It would be really cool to see kids, or anyone really, with the goalkeeper jersey on. Especially seeing how well goalkeepers have done throughout this whole tournament.

“In terms of why they don’t sell them, I’m not too sure and I haven’t looked too much into it, to be honest, sort of being more focused on the World Cup.

“But yeah, in terms of selling them, that would be quite cool in the future.”

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Earps’ pre-tournament comments delved deeper into the issue of visibility, and what message Nike was sending with their goalkeeper kit omission.

“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 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.”

On social media, fans are just as bemused. After Arnold’s goalkeeping heroics against France, it was a key talking point as Matildas followers begged Nike to provide replica kits of their new hero to purchase ahead of the semi-finals:

It is understood that Nike’s decision not to sell goalkeeper kits at the World Cup is based on the company’s commercial strategy.

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