The new venture comes just over a week after the sporting brand cut ties with Kanye West, following backlash over the rapper’s antisemitic comments, which Adidas said were “hateful and dangerous”.
Its new partnership with Stormzy 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 initiative combines Adidas’s football leadership with Stormzy’s experience in creating equality in education and the workplace for young people of Black heritage,” the company said.
The 10 employers that will provide multi-year, paid professional placements starting from January 2023 include Manchester United, Fulham FC, Sky Sports and LADbible.
Research commissioned by Adidas with FARE Network ahead of the launch of #Merky FC found that only 6.7 per cent of senior roles in football are held by someone with Black or mixed Black heritage.
This is despite 39 per cent of Premier League players identifying as Black or mixed Black heritage.
A significant proportion (64 per cent) of Black British young people said they want to become a footballer, but the research showed only 0.012 per cent will make it as a Premier League professional.
Among young Black women, more than half (52 per cent) said they want a role in football, but, of these, 40 per cent do not think they will make it based on their gender.
Adidas’s research 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 per cent) and access to information about available roles off the pitch (27 per cent).
Commenting on the collaboration, Stormzy said: “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.”
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.”