October 13, 2023
Sportwear brand adidas and award-winning British rapper, singer and songwriter Stormzy are expanding the #Merky FC football program, focused on improving diversity in the sport. After releasing a new report highlighting the impact of allyship within the football industry, the duo's next chapter will bring together a collective of allies for a careers program starting January 2024.
The new #Merky FC report highlights the barriers young people face in football as well as the initiative's approach to making the game more inclusive. It revealed that 56% of young people from Black heritages aspire to work in the football industry, however, only 6.7% of senior roles are taken by young Black men or women. Additionally, 72% of young people from Black or mixed Black heritage are more likely to apply for a #Merky FC role if recommended by a friend. Using this data, the report projects a 40% increase in Black representation over five years given the success of the initiative.
“We launched #Merky FC last year to help level the playing field off the pitch by providing career opportunities for young Black people. I am so pleased that we’re back this year with the same focus but with an increased recognition that there is still a lot of work to be done. This requires a collective effort from the whole football community and it’s the reason we published this report – we want to show how everyone can do their bit,” said Stormzy.
The national program in the UK – available to people aged 18 to 24 - is committed to enhancing diverse representation in the football industry by providing access to multi-year paid professional placements. In 2022, the initiative provided 15 roles within the industry. This year’s expansion intends to triple this to 50. To achieve this, adidas and Stormzy have brought together 25 leading brands and football clubs, including Manchester United, Arsenal, GOAL, Sky Sports, Soccer Bible and Electronic Arts (EA), who will form part of the careers program. Each placement will provide work opportunities for marketing, operations and other off-pitch roles in a bid to affect change across the football community.
Steve Marks, adidas’ Senior Director of Brand Communications said: “We’re extremely proud to launch the next iteration of #Merky FC with Stormzy. We commissioned this report to demonstrate the tangible power of allyship – in a model projecting how we together can boost representation by 40% over five years through a simple act of allyship. Since its inception, our goal for #Merky FC has been to not only cultivate new opportunities for young Black people, but to inspire an industrywide movement to create a more diverse and representative world of football.”
The initiative believes that through referring candidates, mentorship programs and a combination of open opportunities from allies, representation disparities within the football industry can be improved. Interested candidates can find out more about the positions available at merkyfc.com.