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Keir Starmer’s keynote speech on football and the Euros

We are proud to have made it to the semi-finals of the Euros. This is an immense achievement after fourteen years of Tory mismanagement. I visited a great many football clubs during my election campaign. Too often, I heard stories of underinvestment, a lack of hope, and a failure to find opportunity.

I pay tribute to the dedication and hard work that Gareth Southgate brought to his leadership of the national team. But the extra effort needed to get to the final should not be underestimated by anyone.  However much I would like to, I can give no guarantees about a semi-final win.

Footballing failure has led to a weariness in the heart of a nation.   A draining away of the hope, the spirit, the belief in a better future.  We must all accept that the team’s performance has too often been painful to watch, and that we need to heal those wounds.  We need to move forward, together.  We must rebuild our team, so that we can win all of football’s major trophies, including the World Cup.

And it is surely clear to everyone that our football needs a bigger reset. For too long now we have turned a blind eye as millions slid into other so-called sports – Padel, Boccia, Korfball – while football was ignored. I want to say very clearly to people - not this time. 

Changing football is not like flicking a switch.  It will take a while.  But have no doubt that the work of change begins – immediately.  We start today with the simple acknowledgment that football can be a force for good.

Ball by ball, we will rebuild our national game from the ground up, with football thriving in every community. With every team member treated with dignity and respect, and providing the hope that working people can build their lives around.  To defy, quietly, those who have written our national team off. 


You have given us a clear mandate to deliver change and to restore sportsmanship and respect to football.  Facing down, as we have so often in our past, the challenges of other national teams.

So, with respect and humility, I invite you all to support our work to deliver national football renewal. 

Our work is urgent… 

And we begin it today.

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