Hit or Miss? Nike responds to backlash over England World Cup football kits

The cost of the new England World Cup football shirts provoked ire against sports clothing giant Nike this week.

Most critics focused on the £90 price tag for the most expensive version in the range, which features "a tailored fit and ventilated, sweat-wicking fabric for pro-level comfort". So did the response from Nike, which replaced Umbro as the national team’s kit provider last year, manage to hoof the attacks out of the park?

How I See It

Jeremy Durrant, corporate affairs partner, Instinctif Partners

Until this week, in my mind football kits – much like Quavers and cans of Fanta – remained frozen at the early 90s price point of my youth. So it was stunning to hear that in the intervening years, even taking into account inflationary forces, an England strip according to Nike could be worth £90.

The inevitable backlash has been wide-ranging and has included supporters’ groups, sports minister Helen Grant and, of course, digital pundit Joey Barton. All condemned the decision. Nike’s defence has been to stress that the majority of kits are available at an RRP of £60, and that less than 1 per cent of total stock available is at the higher rate.

But to try and contextualise the issue away – a classic response in crisis communications – fails to grasp the problem. Football is a mass-market, working-class game and an attempt to cash in with a premium range was always inviting trouble. How can they rectify it? Maybe a free prawn sandwich with every purchase…

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