Stormzy and Adidas launch #Merky FC initiative to combat racial inequality in football

  • The launch advert for the #Merky FC campaign from Stormzy and Adidas

Croydon-born rapper Stormzy and sportswear brand Adidas have launched a new collaboration, #Merky FC, to combat racial inequality in football.

The careers programme is aimed at boosting diversity in the football industry and comes just over a week since the sporting brand cut ties with Kanye West, following backlash over the rapper's "hateful and dangerous" antisemitic comments.

The new partnership will provide football career opportunities and mentoring through work placements with Adidas and 10 industry-leading brands.

#Merky FC is open to all applicants, but candidates aged 18 to 24 from Black or mixed Black heritage are specifically encouraged to apply.

The venture comes after figures from Adidas with FARE Network revealed just 6.7% of senior roles in football are held by black and mixed heritage people.

This is despite 39% of Premier League players identifying as Black or mixed Black heritage.

The programme is designed to improve diversity in football Credit: #Menzy FC

Stormzy called that statistic "embarrassing" as he launched the partnership with 10 brands including Fulham, Manchester United and Sky Sports.

The 29-year-old rapper said: "That statistic is embarrassing.

“If you can see that representation on the pitch with all the players, then it should at least be backed up by people in positions of power, positions of influence outside of being an actual footballer.

“Hopefully with what we're doing we can drive a change."

The research also showed significant proportion (64%) of Black British young people said they want to become a footballer, but the research showed only 0.012% will make it as a Premier League professional.

Stormzy in the #Menzy FC launch video Credit: #Menzy FC

Among young Black women, more than half (52%) said they want a role in football, but, of these, 40% do not think they will make it based on their gender.

It was also found that some of the biggest challenges faced by young Black people trying to get their foot in the door of the industry are their ethnic background (33%) and access to information about available roles off the pitch (27%).

The programme will begin in January 2023 and comes after the Football Association's second annual report on the Football Leadership Diversity Code showed English clubs are failing to meet six out of eight pledged targets.

Stormzy told Sky Sports News: "The statistics are shocking. I think it's down to visibility a lot. Even growing up we didn't see any black managers, black people on our screens in the media.

"So I think when Ian Wright comes along, Thierry Henry comes along, we know we can kick ball - we've always known we can kick ball - but in terms of the roles and the other positions in the industry we don't see our representation, and representation is important.

"When you can't see it, it's not always easy to believe it."

The launch came after research found just 6.7% of senior football roles are from someone identifying as Black or mixed Black heritage Credit: #Merky FC

Discussing the collaboration, Stormzy added: "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.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...