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World Cup anthem singer leaves Israeli interview when asked about Qatar human rights

‘You’re rude,’ Colombian star Maluma tells public broadcaster’s reporter as he walks out when pushed to respond on Doha’s poor record

Kan reporter Moav Vardi (L) as Colombian singer Maluma (R) walks out of an interview in Qatar on November 18, 2022 (Screen grab/Kan used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Kan reporter Moav Vardi (L) as Colombian singer Maluma (R) walks out of an interview in Qatar on November 18, 2022 (Screen grab/Kan used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Colombian singer Maluma, one of the stars behind an official anthem of the World Cup in Qatar, walked out of an interview with Israel’s public broadcaster on Friday when he was asked about his involvement with the tournament despite Qatar’s human rights violations.

The singer was asked about stars, including Shakira and Dua Lipa, who refused to be involved with the World Cup due to Qatar’s poor record on human rights.

“Yeah but it’s something I can’t resolve. I just came here to enjoy life, enjoy soccer and the party of soccer,” Maluma told the Kan public broadcaster.

“It’s not something that I actually have to be involved with. I’m here enjoying my music and the beautiful life, playing soccer too,” he said.

Kan reporter Moav Vardi pushed Maluma on the matter, asking if he could understand why people may have an issue with his response, and whether the Colombian star’s presence was helping the Qatari regime to whitewash the situation.

“Do I have to answer that question?” Maluma said, looking off screen.

A voice is then heard telling him that he doesn’t need to answer. It was not clear who was speaking.

“You’re rude,” Maluma said to Vardi, as he stood up and walked out the interview.

Maluma has teamed up with hip hop star Nicki Minaj and Lebanese singer Myriam Fares for the single “Tukoh Taka,” which has lyrics in English, Spanish and Arabic.

The anthem is the latest in a series of songs by artists from around the world released as part of FIFA’s official soundtrack of the 2022 World Cup.

Maluma and Myriam Fares will perform at the opening of the FIFA fan festival in Doha on Saturday.

The World Cup has sparked multiple controversies — from the deaths and living conditions of migrant workers, to the impact on the environment of air-conditioned stadiums, and the position and rights of LGBTQ people, women and minorities.

Additionally, on Friday Qatar banned the sale of beer at World Cup stadiums, a sudden U-turn on the deal it made to secure the soccer tournament — only two days before the opening game.

Skeptics say Qatar wanted to use the prestige of the World Cup, which starts Sunday, to remake its image.

They viewed the move as a classic case of “sportswashing” — using sports as a forum to cast a country or company as different than many perceive.

Israeli broadcasters and fans have been permitted to travel to Qatar for the World Cup despite the lack of ties between the two countries. However, they have been warned to downplay where they came from.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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