Nov 08, 2022

#MerkyFC – Driving Change in Football

Welcome to #MerkyFC, an exciting, collaborative partnership between adidas and cultural icon Stormzy to drive impactful change in the football industry.
by Chris Norrisstaff

As one of the pillars of #MerkyFC, #MerkyFC Football Careers is an initiative aimed at helping to correct the imbalance in the UK football industry when it comes to Black representation in roles away from the field of play.

The project will provide a multitude of UK based football career opportunities and mentoring to young people of Black heritage (aged 18-25). This initiative combines both adidas’ and Stormzy’s shared values in making sport equal, through the combination of adidas’s football leadership and Stormzy’s experience in creating equality in education and the workplace for young people of Black heritage.

Stormzy – an influential cultural icon

Stormzy is the UK’s biggest rapper – a hugely popular, critically acclaimed cultural icon, who was recently named one of the UK’s most influential Black people. Over the years he has used his position to drive for equality in education and the workplace for young people of Black heritage, through with his brand and movement #Merky and the #Merky Foundation.

Check out the publishing deal he has set up with Penguin Books, which has changed the game and given Black authors a visible platform for their work. Or the scholarship programme he launched with Cambridge University, designed to get more people of Black heritage into an environment which has historically been overwhelmingly white.

Stormzy is authentic in this space in the same way that we are authentic in football – bringing the two together gives us the perfect ingredients to make change.

Tackling an industry wide issue

Black representation in football is an industry wide problem – in the UK, only 6.7% of senior roles in football are taken by someone of Black heritage. Even though the sport may appear diverse on the field of play, with 39% of Premier League players identifying as Black or mixed Black heritage, it is a different story off pitch.

The issue is bigger than Stormzy and adidas, which is why we have pulled together The Starting 11. The group is made up of eleven influential brands in the UK football industry who have joined forces on to give over multiple roles for this campaign targeted at Black men or women.

Our partners Manchester United and Fulham are in the collective, as are media house Sky Sports, editorial platforms Lad and Versus, Sports Marketing agencies, Wasseman and Team Marketing and football stadium architects KSS.

Through The Starting 11, we will offer multiple entry level roles into the football industry. The recruitment process is managed by a platform called Diverse, who provide a recruitment selection service to both Black and Ethnic minorities. All roles are fully financed by the partners themselves. The roles are open to all; however, our marketing efforts will focus on inspiring applications from people of Black heritage.

For a deeper insight into the problem and how we can help drive the solution, we filmed a panel talk with Stormzy, Arsenal legend and pundit Ian Wright, current Brighton midfielder Victoria Williams, adidas Project Lead Steve Marks and a host of other guests, which you can watch below.

A true partnership

This is a partnership which is set up for multiple years to come. We have created a powerful set of tools and content, which tell our story and showcase both the adidas and #Merky brands. Working with Stormzy will help us drive change whilst cutting through to a new audience. You can see from the clip below that together, we have big ambitions for where we want to take it.

This is a truly exciting moment which shows the power of partnership, football and culture. It’s also a great demonstration that through sport, we have the power to change lives. There’s much, much more to come… Watch this space.