Nike has backflipped on its call to ignore Aussie hero Mackenzie Arnold from its merchandise line.
The sporting apparel giant on Friday announced the Matildas goalkeeper’s jersey will be made available for fans to purchase — heading into the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
Assuming Australia qualifies for next year’s Games, Nike has announced Arnold’s iconic goalkeeper kit will be made available for fans as early as July.
Football Australia and Nike have announced a historic 10-year extension of their partnership where the jerseys of all Matildas and Socceroos payers will be made available to fans for all major international competitions.
The announcement is a backflip from the American company, which has conceded it dropped the ball by electing not to produce any jerseys that featured Arnold’s name — following her quarter-final penalty shoot-out heroics.
Nike copped criticism from fans in Australia during the 2023 Women’s World Cup with the jerseys of some payers unavailable and the jerseys of some star players sold out.
Only four nations at the 2023 World Cup had their goalkeeper jerseys for sale — Australia was not on the list.
Nike’s Pacific general manager and vice president Ash Reade told Optus Sport during the announcement the company “didn’t serve” Aussie fans with Arnold earning cult hero status for her shot-stopping.
We recognise that during the tournament we didn’t serve those fans who wished to show their support to the squad’s goalkeepers and are committed to and are working with Football Australia to ensure we retail women’s goalkeeping jerseys for major tournaments in the future.
“Before this tournament, we planned accordingly for the Matildas to go deep and Aussies more than met our expectations, with record jersey sales surpassing 2019 numbers nineteen-fold.
“It’s a true testament to the power and pull of women’s sport and the women’s game. It reflects the unparalleled impact this team has had on the next generation of athletes and fans of all ages.
“Along with the nation, all of us at Nike continue to be inspired by the Matildas and are working hard to serve fans with the biggest and best team collections.”
The Matildas will wear Asics kits during the Paris Games as part of the deal between the AOC and Football Australia — but Nike will still pump out jerseys for all the Aussie players featuring at the tournament.
Meanwhile, there was surprise news from the Matildas this weekend with Alex Chidiac dropped from Australia’s squad for next month’s two-match series against Canada.
Versatile veteran Aivi Luik and in-form Melbourne City striker Holly McNamara have been recalled at the expense of Cortnee Vine (hamstring) and Chidiac.
Australia’s squad also includes uncapped Brighton attacker Charlize Rule, who has been elevated from her “train-on player” status for the recent Olympic Games qualifiers.
Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson said the matches against familiar foes Canada, the reigning Olympic gold medallists, would serve as good preparations for Australia’s February home-and-away battle with Uzbekistan for a spot in the 2024 Olympic Games women’s football tournament.
Originally published as Nike backflips on Matildas with big jersey call made