LONDON British Prime Minister David Cameron criticized the 90-pound ($150) top price tag of Nike's England World Cup shirts on Thursday, saying supporters should not be exploited with such expensive items.
Nike's limited edition England jersey has been branded a rip off by British media and has prompted a backlash from soccer fans who say they are often fleeced for loyalty to club and country.
A call by sports minister Helen Grant for Nike to cut the price went unheeded on Wednesday with the U.S. sportswear company saying most of its replica shirts would sell for 60 pounds.
"It is very expensive," Cameron told BBC television, noting that he was the father of a football-mad eight-year-old boy.
"Parents are under enormous pressure to buy the latest kit and we shouldn't be taken advantage of."
Cameron himself is a fan of Aston Villa football club, a team based in Birmingham in central England and 12th in the English Premier League.
With the England shirt going on sale in shops on Thursday, Nike again stressed that very few would cost the top price.
"Nike would like to reiterate that the new England replica shirt is available to fans at 60 pounds RRP (recommended retail price)," the company said in a statement.
"There is also a limited number of shirts at 90 pounds RRP which represents less than 1 percent of the stock available."
The 90-pound version of the all-white jersey that the England players will wear in Brazil features the same material, fit and finish, with enhanced "cooling technology", Nike's website says. The cheaper shirt is a more basic replica aimed at the mass market and versions for children cost 42 pounds.
Leading British sports retailer Sports Direct is offering the cheaper version online for a discounted price of 47.99 pounds, sacrificing part of its profit margin in an attempt to boost sales.
German rivals Adidas and Puma are charging fans similar prices for national team shirts they are supplying at the World Cup.
The England shirt is usually a big seller with fans who take pride in wearing the national team jersey during major tournaments.
($1 = 0.6011 British pounds)
(Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith and Keith Weir; Editing by Louise Ireland)