James Corden, the British-born TV host and lifelong West Ham United fan, slammed plans for a European soccer Super League competition during his opening monologue of Monday’s “The Late Late Show.”
In his impassioned speech, Corden said he was “heartbroken” and “disgusted” by this new breakaway league, which will bring together 12 founding clubs, including Manchester United, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Barcelona.
“I’m heartbroken because the owners of these teams have displayed the worst kind of greed I have ever seen in sport,” said Corden, who hosted Sky One’s “A League of Their Own” since 2010.
He said the fact that the 12 founding members will have access to the league on a historical basis rather than on merit was detrimental to the core values of soccer.
“Football is a working-class game where anyone can beat anyone on their day and it’s that that makes it incredible, it’s that that’s made it a global force,” said Corden. “I know that sport is nothing without the fans. We need football to be for everyone. We need football to be fair and we need competitions based on merit.”
He said the League is being set up to serve the interest of a “group of billionaires” so that they can “buy themselves a bigger boat or a second boat.”
Corden is one of the many personalities to have condemned the Super League, along with ex-footballers, fans and politicians.
Aside from Manchester United, Liverpool, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, the other founding clubs are AC Milan, Arsenal, Atlético de Madrid, Chelsea, FC Internazionale Milano, Juventus, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur. While no German or French clubs have signed up so far, more clubs are expected to join the league before the first season.
When announcing their plans on Sunday night, the Super League said in a statement that the project took shape due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has “accelerated the instability in the existing European football economic model.” The League said it will aim to bring “greater economic growth and support” for European football through “solidarity payments” which will surpass those of current European competition. With live sport suspended for extended periods of time due to the pandemic, many football clubs saw their revenue plummet in the last year.
Meanwhile, the UEFA (Union of European Football Associations), which is the governing body of football in Europe, is firmly against the launch of a Super League and said it “will consider all measures available (…) both judicial and sporting in order to prevent this happening.”
The governing body said the clubs that are part of the Super League “will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European or world level, and their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams.”
Watch Corden’s full speech below.