James Corden made an angry and impassioned plea against plans for a European soccer Super League on Monday’s episode The Late Late Show, repeatedly describing the controversial scheme as “disgusting” and saying that he was “heartbroken.”
The Brit-born host, a lifelong West Ham United fan, took the time to speak on the topic that is roiling the soccer world, despite admitting that his American audience likely “don’t care.”
Over the weekend, 12 of Europe’s most famous soccer clubs, including Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United, revealed plans to establish a breakaway multibillion-dollar Super League. The closed competition is expected to disrupt the traditional merit-based pyramid system in European soccer and has been met with a furious reaction on the continent, including from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron.
“The truth is, this whole thing, making this move, these teams, these owners are killing, they will kill hundreds of other football teams that compete with them and have competed with them many times over the years, disregarding the fan bases of those teams and disregarding the fan bases of their own teams, who are devastated, too,” Corden said.
“I’m heartbroken by it, genuinely heartbroken by it. I’m heartbroken because the owners of these teams have displayed the worst kind of greed I’ve ever seen in sport,” he added.
Corden then explained the importance of soccer teams in the U.K. and how they fundamentally differed from U.S. sports franchises. He said British soccer teams were invariably established by working-class people over a hundred years ago and have deep intrinsic ties to their local communities.
Searching for a Hollywood analogy to explain the Super League plans, Corden said the merit-less nature of the competition was akin to A-list actresses Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Saoirse Ronan and Viola Davis always getting nominated for the best actress Academy Award every year, irrespective of the quality of their performances.
Seemingly close to tears, Corden continued: “It’s hard to express how much these communities rely on football, not just financially, which is considerable, but football is like a focal point of a town’s hopes and dreams. That’s what it is, you know?
“And these dreams, they’ve just been shattered not just in Britain, all across Europe. And the reason these dreams have been shattered and discarded is so that a group of billionaires can buy themselves a bigger boat, or a second boat.”
He added: “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 the global force it is today.”
Admitting that he thinks a Super League is inevitable due to the financial rewards and the greed of the team owners, Corden concluded: “Don’t ever forget that it was them, those owners. They took something so pure and so beautiful and they beat the love and the joy out of it and they did it for money. They just did it for money. And it’s disgusting.”
Watch the full clip below.