Stormzy and Adidas launch #Merky FC report showing need for allyship in football

Stormzy and Adidas have announced the expansion of #Merky FC by sharing a report highlighting the impact of allyship within the football industry.

The Croydon grime artist teamed up with the athletic apparel and footwear corporation last year in a bid to improve diversity in the sport.

At the time, the initiative said it was 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”.

Today (October 5) Stormzy and Adidias have ushered in the next chapter of their #Merky FC partnership. They’ve said that the scheme will “broaden its scope and impact by tripling the number of roles available”.

A new report published by #Merky FC highlights “the barriers faced by young Black people” in football, as well as the initiative’s “approach to changing the game” to make it more inclusive.

#Merky FC will this year increase the number of off-pitch roles from 15 to 50, with both Adidas and Stormzy bringing together a collective of allies to form part of a careers programme kick-starting in January 2024.

These include placements at 25 leading brands including Manchester United, Arsenal, Sky Sports, LADbible, EA, ITV and Women In Football (see the full list below).

Candidates can visit to find more information and register their interest in the roles from today until October 19.

Each placement will provide work opportunities spanning operations and community to creative and marketing, in an effort to change the game for Black and Black mixed heritage youth.

According to the report, 56 per cent yet only 6.7 per cent of senior roles in football are occupied by someone from this community. Stormzy and Adidas responded to this data by recognising the need to identify the barriers that prevent people from entering the industry.

They have a shared ambition to encourage the industry and fans alike to help make positive changes. The new report models the potential impact of allyship and how initiatives like #Merky FC can help to increase representation.

The research, which was conducted by an expert team of behavioural scientists and data analysts, found that 72 per cent of people from Black or mixed Black heritage are more like to apply for a #Merky FC role if it is recommended by a friend.

It used the new insight along with existing data on representation in football, application bias and job openings, as well as the impact of adding #Merky FC roles. As a result, the report has modelled a projection of a 40 per cent increase in Black representation over a five-year period.

“Stormzy and Adidas understand that allyship alone cannot tackle the disparities within the industry,” a press release reads.

“However, by using the #Merky FC approach – referring candidates, mentorship programmes and establishing role models – [they] believe this can be replicated across the industry to help boost representation.”

Stormzy said: “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.”

He continued: “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.”

Tobi Ogundipe, #Merky FC partner and founder of DIVERSE, added: “As someone who has witnessed how the small acts of allyship can truly help to change the game, it’s important that we all recognise the need for more programs that support this across the industry.

“Initiatives designed to increase diversity, such as #Merky FC, can truly unlock more opportunities for young people from marginalised communities, it’s important that we all recognise the need for more programs like this to create lasting change for the next generation of future leaders.”

Steve Marks, senior director of brand communications at Adidas 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 full list of #Merky FC partners is as follows:

Arsenal FC
Football Co (GOAL)
Fulham FC
Hill & Knowlton Strategies
Manchester United
#Merky FC
Scottish FA
SI Games
Sky Sports
The Midnight Club
Twelfth Man
Women In Football

Meanwhile, it has been announced that Stormzy will perform at the 2024 Formula One British Grand Prix next summer.

Stormzy played his only UK show of 2023 in August as part of this year’s All Points East gig series in Victoria Park, London.

His third and most recent studio album, ‘This Is What I Mean’, was released last November. In a four-star review, NME praised the artist for “letting his listeners in like never before” on the record.

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