Stormzy has announced #Merky FC, a new football partnership with Adidas that is aiming to improve diversity in the sport.
Described as “a programme committed to enhancing and protecting diverse representation in the football industry”, the initiative is aiming to address “the lack of diversity off the pitch in football, and provide access to a host of multi-year, paid professional placements across the industry”.
The launch of #Merky FC comes after recent Adidas and Fare Network-commissioned research found that just 6.7 per cent of senior roles in football are currently taken by someone who identifies as Black or mixed Black heritage.
While 39 per cent of Premier League players identify as Black or mixed Black heritage, the study found that only 26 per cent of young Black British men aspire to have a career in football off the pitch.
While the majority of Black women (52 per cent) who participated in the study said that they would be interested in a role in football, 40 per cent of respondents said that they didn’t think they’d make be successful based on their gender.
“One of the biggest challenges faced by young Black people trying to break into the industry is their ethnic background (33 per cent), as well as awareness and access to information on available roles off the pitch (27 per cent),” a press release adds.
“Physio, TV presenter and nutritionist are the most well-known roles within the wider football industry for this group. However, just 12-14 per cent of respondents think they would be considered for each of these positions.”
#Merky FC will see Stormzy and Adidas bring together 10 additional partners – including Manchester United, Fulham FC and Sky Sports – to form a careers programme that will commence in January 2023, “each providing work placements from operations and community to creative and marketing within their businesses in a bid to change the game”.
In a statement, Stormzy said: “Just 6.7 per cent of senior roles in football are taken by someone who identifies as Black or mixed Black heritage. We barely see any Black Team Managers, Coaches, Sports Presenters, Assistants, Ops Managers, Sales Managers, Accountants, Marketing Managers or Physiotherapists – the list goes on, nor are many of us even aware of the vast roles available within the football industry.
“Through the #Merky FC initiative we hope to inspire real change within this field as part of my wider commitment to support racial equality in the UK.
“With the support of adidas and the additional 10 partners, we will be in a position to aid the people who may have experienced disadvantages during their football career pathway. We strongly encourage other companies to join us in our mission.”
More information on #Merky FC can be found here.
Stormzy will release his new album ‘This Is What I Mean’ on November 25 via 0207 Def Jam. He’ll also be the subject of a range of BBC TV and radio specials later this month.