British rapper Stormzy has teamed up with sportswear manufacturer Adidas to launch #Merky FC, a collaborative venture providing young people of Black heritage with career opportunities within football, with architecture firm KSS among the backers.
The project will seek to affect change across the football industry by addressing the lack of diversity off the field. #Merky FC will provide access to a host of multi-year paid professional placements across the industry, including at stadium and venue management level.
Stormzy will combine his experience in creating equality in education and the workplace for young people of Black heritage with Adidas’ football expertise. KSS is one of 10 companies that have signed up to form part of a careers programme that will commence in January.
Other brands that have signed up include Adidas, Manchester United, Fulham, Sky, LADbible, Versus, UEFA, WMG and Footballco (Goal.com). Each of the companies will provide work placements across a range of areas, including operations, community and marketing.
Research commissioned by Adidas with FARE Network has found that just 6.7% of senior roles in football are taken by someone who identified as Black or mixed Black heritage. Currently, 39% of Premier League players identify as Black or mixed Black heritage.
Data has also revealed that just 26% of young Black British men aspire to have a career in football off the pitch. The majority (52%) of Black women also say they want a role in football, although 40% do not think they would make it based on gender.
Stormzy said: “Just 6.7% 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.”
In a statement, Adidas added: “We are passionate about providing inclusive opportunities to young talent in the UK. We are proud to be working in partnership with Stormzy to introduce #Merky FC, an initiative that directly tackles some of the biggest barriers facing UK youth in football today, by creating a legacy of career opportunities off the pitch alongside the other partners.
“Along with the support of our network of Adidas partners, we are committed to fighting for equal representation in football, and this launch is only the beginning for #Merky FC. Watch this space.”
The nationwide application process for #Merky FC will commence from tomorrow (Friday).