This year's Qatar World Cup is arguably the most controversial FIFA tournament in recent times. With all the growing human rights concerns, it's only natural for celebrities to turn down any brand endorsements lest they generate any negative PR.
방탄소년단 ‘정국’이 2022 FIFA 카타르 월드컵 공식 사운드트랙과 월드컵 개막식 공연에 참여합니다. 많은 기대 부탁드립니다!— BTS_official (@bts_bighit) November 12, 2022
Proud to announce that Jung Kook is part of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Soundtrack & will perform at the World Cup opening ceremony. Stay tuned!#FIFAWorldCup pic.twitter.com/MwJ2kdNRBp
But the controversies don’t matter to BTS alumnus Jungkook, who has landed on Qatari soil and is ready to grace the FIFA World Cup 2022 opening ceremony on November 20 at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor near Doha.
Dua Lipa rejects FIFA on humanitarian grounds: Jungkook’s appearance comes in the aftermath of Dua Lipa rejecting an offer to perform at the ceremony. The Levitating hitmaker took a sarcastic jab at the Gulf state, saying that she would be ready to perform when it has “fulfilled all the human right pledges it made when it won the right to host” (winning the bid to host is another story altogether, btw).
Good to see artists like @DUALIPA take a stand on the side of human rights in #Qatar ahead of @FIFAWorldCup. If only @FIFAcom had an ounce of that commitment to establish a compensation fund for migrant workers who built @FIFAWorldCup. #PayUpFIFA https://t.co/JFKhYJc5Ie pic.twitter.com/mxN1mrZEyQ— Michael Page (@MichaelARPage) November 15, 2022
To quote the British disco-pop icon’s Instagram story,
BTS Army divided over Jungkook’s performance: Hordes of BTS fans (who are collectively placed under the umbrella term “Army”) showered their love on Jungkook from the moment he landed at Qatar’s Hamad International Airport.
Some diehard Jungkook fans are also glad that he’s getting a global stage to showcase his solo presence away from BTS.
At the same time, a few BTS Army members also expressed their disappointment, even going to the extent of calling Jungkook and HYBE Entertainment (BTS’s management agency) hypocrites.
It’s honestly disappointing that jungkook or anyone is performing in Qatar. How can speak at the UN and then go perform for a nation that is so explicitly violating human rights. No amount of exposure should be a trade off for that it just doesn’t make any sense— r ⁷ (@2hobisobi) November 14, 2022
His presence at the ceremony seems to be tonedeaf especially given that BTS delivered a much-lauded speech at the United Nations headquarters at New York this June. The speech was mainly aimed at addressing violence against children, inspiring the younger generations, vaccination, and climate change.
please do some research about why it’s problematic that Jungkook is performing at the world cup and by that supporting it. don’t just blindly support whatever the boys do. so many people have already died for this world cup and the disregard for human rights there is unbelievable— Junnie (taylor’s version)🌻 (@Junniejk_) November 12, 2022
What is Jungkook’s politics? While Jungkook has never been too vocal about his individual political views, BTS as a collective has often been on the forefront when it comes to donating for humanitarian causes. Back in 2020, following George Floyd’s death, BTS and Big Hit Entertainment (which is now renamed to HYBE) raised nearly $1 million for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Back in 2014, the South Korean ferry MV Sewol capsized leading to 299 on-board deaths. BTS members actively raised funds for the families of the victims. Additionally, they have contributed to several schools in their native country and UNICEF programs to promote universal education.
Apart from their UN speech making headlines this year, BTS also visited American President Joe Biden at the White House this May to address anti-Asian hate crimes and discrimination.
Who will be joining Jungkook? The K-pop star will be joined by American electro-pop/hip-hop group Black Eyed Peas, Colombian reggaeton artist J Balvin, and British popstar Robbie Williams. Other high profile artists will continue performing at the FIFA Fan Festival in Qatar in the weeks to follow, including rapper Post Malone, electronic producer Calvin Harris, and Adam Levine’s pop rock band Maroon 5. Even Nora Fatehi is supposed to be a part of this festival!
Other artists who won’t be performing: British pop legend Rod Stewart has been another major name to have turned down the tournament for humanitarian reasons. Speaking to Sunday Times, the veteran musician revealed that he was being offered over a million dollars but he rejected the opportunity as “it’s not okay to go”. Stewart even went on to add that Iran needs to be outed from the tournament for the vaguely-worded reason of “supplying weapons”.
Colombian singer Shakira, who has had a long relationship with FIFA singing 2010’s Waka Waka and 2014’s La La La was also slated to perform at the opening ceremony, but she supposedly had a change of heart last week. Shakira has been in the news recently for her highly-publicised split with Spanish footballer Gerard Pique and an ongoing case of tax fraud. Any more negative publicity at Qatar cannot be afforded by her PR team.
Additionally, the British alternative-rock outfit The Cure can also not perform, with their frontman Robert Smith citing a current European tour as the reason.
The opening ceremony will take place on November 20 right before the first match between Qatar and Ecuador.