The Norway women’s national soccer team is historically one of the best in the sport. Along with the USWNT, Norway are the only ones to have won both Olympic gold and the World Cup. It makes sense, then, that Nike would want to be the official jersey sponsor for a team with such pedigree. What doesn’t make sense is why Nike won’t make them jerseys made for women.
As reported in the Guardian, the Norwegian women are not happy at having to play in baggy jerseys that restrict their movement:
But Nike has not yet produced a strip designed for the female figure and the players were provided with what were described as “unisex” tops.
“We know they have done their best and that they haven’t had much time but it is a bit unfortunate that we should walk around with strips that look like tents,” said the Norway captain, Trine Roenning.
“Unisex” is likely a euphemism here. They’ve probably been given hand-me-down men’s or even boys’ jerseys and told to sit tight while Nike eventually gets to the needs of their 16,762th-most valued client.
The picture at the top shows some Norway U17 players in the new, ill-fitting Nike kits, but for a better look at the difference between those ones and women-tailored ones, check out this video from last month’s Algarve Cup match against the USWNT:
As you can see, the USWNT’s jerseys fit snugly throughout the arms and down the flanks, while Norway’s ones have all kinds of extra fabric all over.
Sadly, Norway seem resigned to their fate. As the above statement indicates, the players are bothered, but haven’t been pushing too hard, knowing that a big company like Nike would probably just as soon drop them as address their concerns. Which, again, are just to be given shirts that don’t double as parachutes.
When it comes to assigning blame, the Norwegian federation is similarly subdued:
With the team ranked 11th in the world compared to 70th for the men, the Norwegian federation has been accused of getting its priorities wrong, but the ruling body is blaming teething problems.
“In an ideal world we would have had a strip tailored for women by now but it takes time to get the partnership working and to get women’s kits sewn,” said Ove Nystuen, the head of marketing for the women’s team. “The World Cup will be the only tournament without tailored kits for the women.”
Yeah, from January (when the partnership with Nike started) to April is much too short a timespan to expect little old Nike to tailor a few dozen jerseys into women’s sizes.
But by all means, take your time, Nike. No one’s going to come after you about this. It’s not like any other, stronger body—FIFA, let’s say—has any track record of protecting the interest of their female athletes, either.