AceShowbiz - Controversy continues to swirl around the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Qatar is hosting this year's highly-anticipated tournament, which is held once every four years. However, many oppose FIFA's choice of the country to host the occasion over concerns about human rights abuses, including the Gulf country's criminalization of LGBT people. It also suggests same-sex sexual activity between men and between women could result in death penalty.
In protest, several celebrities around the world have vowed to boycott the World Cup. Among those who have said to stay away from the tournament include Dua Lipa and Rod Stewart. But the issues surrounding the world's biggest sports event have not stopped other entertainment personalities from showing up in Qatar. Here are ten stars who decided to take part in the tournament amid the boycott.
David Beckham is an ambassador for Qatar in the 2022 FIFA World Cup. According to reports, the former soccer pro player signed a £150 million (around $184 million) deal to become the face of the host nation.
Following the criticism over his ambassadorship, the Manchester United legend insisted that Qatar and its ambassadors are changing lives for the better, adding that "the pitch would be a platform for progress." He continued, "Dreams can come true. That is why you are here. You share Generation Amazing's twin passions for the game of football and for making the world a more tolerant and inclusive place."
J Balvin, in the meantime, is one of the musicians who performed in Qatar for state-sponsored musical events. The "Mi Gente" hitmaker entertained the crowd at a show organized by Qatar Airways and Qatar Tourism, in collaboration with Alchemy Project on November 24.
Maluma is participating in this year's World Cup by taking part in the official anthem "Tukoh Taka". On the song, which features Nicki Minaj and Myriam Fares, the 28-year-old Columbian native sings in Spanish.
"I am so happy to be part of this FIFA World Cup anthem! I always dreamt of an opportunity like this," Maluma said in a statement, "Representing Latin music on this global track alongside amazing artists that sing in English and Arabic, takes our culture to another level." Not stopping there, Maluma, along with Myriam, kicked off the tournament on November 20 in electric fashion at the FIFA Fan Festival with some Hawaiian songs.
Diplo is one of the lead lineups for Qatar's FIFA Fan Festival at the World Cup. The 44-year-old DJ, born Thomas Wesley Pentz, entertained around 20,000 audiences from the festival's mainstage on November 22.
Discussing his performance at the show in Al Bidda Park, Doha, Diplo said, "Absolutely wild, complete madness. What an International crowd. I couldn't imagine seeing that many flags at one show, but we have it here." He added, "When [I go] on stage like, 'Wow these people love me.' It's wild, you know."
Also performing for the World Cup is Robbie Williams. The English musician is set to perform at Doha Golf Club on December 8. Amid the backlash he faced due to his decision to perform in Qatar, he insisted that he "[doesn't] condone any abuses of human rights anywhere."
"But, that being said, if we're not condoning human rights abuses anywhere, then it would be the shortest tour the world has ever known: I wouldn't even be able to perform in my own kitchen," he added. "Anybody leaving messages saying 'no to Qatar' are doing so on Chinese technology. It would be hypocritical of me to not go [to Qatar] because of the places that I do go to."
Morgan Freeman had a major role at the World Cup opening ceremony. The 85-year-old actor kicked off the ceremony on November 20 by narrating the opening segment, titled "The Calling", at Al-Bayt Stadium in Doha.
Morgan delivered a speech about the "emotions that connect" people. "We gather here as one big tribe and Earth is the tent we all live in," so the Oscar-winning star told the crowd, "Through all the differences in language there is a common thread of hope, jubilation and respect. We may not understand words but in the deepest part of us we must appreciate and understand the emotions that connect us all."
Despite being urged by her fans, the Barbz, not to take part in the Qatar World Cup, Nicki Minaj still appears on its official anthem "Tukoh Taka" alongside Maluma and Myriam Fares. For her part, the Harajuku Barbie raps in English and Spanish.
"Me, soy Trini/ Everyting di man have, dat a fi mi/ Donde esta el dinero? Papi, gimme," the Trinidadian hip-hop star kicks off the song's first verse with a mix of the two languages. She continues spitting bars in English, "Pretty face, ugly gyal can't see me/ Made that pretty ****, just let me do my little shimmy/ That little **** fat, but that waist still skinny/ **** him so good that them men a get clingy/ I'm even wetter when I do it at the Henny."
Calvin Harris is scheduled to close out the FIFA Fan Festival at Doha's Al Bidda Park on December 10. In a statement, the "One Kiss" DJ said, "I'm so excited to be playing for football fans from all over the world at this year's FIFA Fan Festival."
Upon learning of his decision to perform in Qatar, where same-sex sexual activity between men and between women could result in death penalty, Calvin was called out to step back from his gig. "I'm a huge Calvin Harris fan so I feel incredibly disappointed that he's performing in a country where women, LGBT+ people and migrant workers are treated as second-class citizens," rights campaigner Peter Tatchell tweeted, "I urge Harris and other stars to search their conscience, pull out from the Qatar deal and speak up for human rights."
Alongside actor Morgan Freeman, South Korean pop singer Jungkook of boyband BTS (Bangtan Boys) also headlined the World Cup opening ceremony on November 20. At the time, the 25-year-old singer debuted "Dreamers", his contribution to the tournament's official soundtrack.
Kicking off his performance solo at Al-Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, the "Dynamite" hitmaker was joined onstage by Qatari singer Fahad Al Kubaisi halfway through the song. "Look who we are, we are the dreamers/ We make it happen, 'cause we believe it," he sings in the motivational single. "Look who we are, we are the dreamers/ We make it happen 'cause we can see it."
Black Eyed Peas took part in this year's World Cup in Qatar by performing at one of the tournament's macro-events. They agreed to entertain the crowd at Doha Golf Club on November 20.
According to reports, the group agreed to perform at the show organized by Qatar Airways and Qatar Tourism, in collaboration with Alchemy Project, for €450,000 (around $474,000). This wasn't the first time the group has performed at a World Cup as they were the stars of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, where they kicked off the event with Shakira. They sang at the opening celebration concert held at the Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg in front of 30,000 people.