Barely hours after it was officially released to the public, Nigeria’s World Cup jersey is proving a tough purchase.
The retro-themed kit, voted the best World Cup jersey in a recent Sky Sports poll, was praised in Nigeria and global soccer circles after it was first revealed in February. But all that hype has translated into pent-up demand as, hours after being released by Nike, the kit has sold out. A message on the US kit maker’s website says the product was “only available in limited quantities.” Nike says there are currently no plans to restock.
Buying the kit at Nike’s physical stores is not proving any easier. In London, long queues have appeared outside Nike’s Oxford Street store.
Some of the hype around the jersey been questioned. Nigeria’s football federation (NFF) claimed Nike said it had received three million pre-orders. But sport industry insiders have cast doubt on those numbers, given that the world’s most well-followed club rarely tops that number. In addition, there were no obvious pre-order options for the jersey on Nike or the NFF’s websites. Nike has not confirmed the three million figure. But there’s little doubt the hype has worked in generating buzz around the jersey, especially in London, a day ahead of the England-Nigeria, pre-World Cup warm-up match at Wembley stadium.
Nike’s marketing and strategy have been questioned locally as, despite the kit’s massive popularity, it has only been released a fortnight before the World Cup kicks off. The late release has been a boon for local traders who have sold fake versions of the jersey since March. Indeed, last week, during a friendly match ahead of the World Cup, hundreds of fans in the stadium sported the jersey even though it had not been officially. The price of the kit has also come into question too. At $90, it is beyond the reach of millions of Nigeria’s soccer-mad fans. But, available at $17, bootleg versions are proving a popular alternative.