Saturday, November 22, 2014

sourav Malhotra

Nike Doesn’t Sell U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Jerseys to Men

Women’s soccer jersey (left) and men’s soccer jersey
Women’s soccer jersey (left) and men’s soccer jersey

 When a national soccer team wins a FIFA World Cup, it marks the accomplishment by embroidering a small star onto its uniforms—the sporting equivalent of Dr. Seuss’s Sneetches on Beaches. After Germany’s men’s team won in Brazil this summer, its fourth World Cup victory, Adidas (ADS:GR) couldn’t keep up with demand for the team’s new four-star jerseys.
In the U.S., the men’s national team has zero stars; the women’s team has two. Nike (NKE) sells replica jerseys for both, and their design, other than the stars, is the same. Nike doesn’t, however, sell the two-starred jerseys in men’s sizes.

The small symbols have large significance. And their absence in men’s sizes has frustrated at least one customer wanting to display his allegiance to the women’s team at the 2015 World Cup in Canada next June. On this week’s Men in Blazers podcast, a weekly chat on all things soccer by two British expats, hosts Michael Davies and Roger Bennett discussed an e-mail from a reader complaining that he was “stuck either wearing a jersey without the stars or trying to squeeze into a youth jersey.” Bennett addressed the apparel brand directly: “Nike, it’s a plea from us to you: Don’t be sexist. Let us support our women without losing our dignity.”

Nike spokesman KeJuan Wilkins confirms that the company does not offer jerseys with stars in men’s sizes. The converse is also true: Jerseys without stars do not come in women’s sizes. Nike, Wilkins says, fears that adding stars to the men’s replicas would be interpreted as a false claim that the men had won two World Cups.

In any case, if there are scores of frustrated men looking for a pair of “stars upon thars,” they’re keeping quiet about it. “We’ve rarely heard this be an issue,” Wilkins says. A visit to the WNBA online store suggests that Adidas, like Nike, doesn’t offer women’s replica gear in men’s sizes, though sleeveless basketball jerseys are basically unisex.

Nike, says Wilkins, would be open to selling women’s replicas for men if the two jerseys were not otherwise identical.

sourav Malhotra

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