Wed | Dec 6, 2023

Sean Paul elated to be in Qatar for FIFA World Cup final

Published:Sunday | December 18, 2022 | 2:01 AMStephanie LyewSunday Gleaner Writer - -
Sean Paul is one of several leading international acts that FIFA announced would be performing for its 2022 World Cup events in Qatar.
Sean Paul is one of several leading international acts that FIFA announced would be performing for its 2022 World Cup events in Qatar.

The first trip recording superstar Sean Paul made to Qatar was in 2007, however, he did not face an audience due to of a last-minute cancellation because of inclement weather.

He has travelled there since, but today, he sits on a hotel balcony facing the town where he stayed that very first time with an awestruck expression on his face “because that was just an empty bay with one or two nice resorts back then. There was nothing around it,” Sean Paul shared in his interview with The Sunday Gleaner.

“To hear management say the venue was under water (two centimetres), a little rain that they weren’t used to, and so the show could not go on, was my first experience here. But a lot has changed. Now, it is a whole city with skyscrapers and such. That is something that is so mind-boggling and fascinating to see that type of investment in a country and to watch it grow. It is eye-opening to observe that drive to develop it,” he continued.

Sean Paul is one of several leading international acts that FIFA announced would be performing for its 2022 World Cup events in Qatar. He hit the main stage yesterday at Al Bidda Park for the FIFA Fan Festival.

He said that he becomes enthralled with the games every World Cup but feels a bit of nostalgia now.

“It takes me back to 1982, the first World Cup that I can remember and maybe 1986. Anyone who knows football would judge by the mere mention of that and tell that I’m an Argentina fan. Maradona [Diego Maradona] is a hero in football for me, so is Pelé. Before I even got deep into World Cup, I was calling his name,” he said. “This year has been bittersweet. I also have a lot of respect for Ronaldo, too … so I was sorry for him. I was quite happy to see America progressing in the sport and also proud of Morocco as the first Arab and African nation to make it to the World Cup semi-finals. And here I am, about to watch a final with Argentina and France, which is a territory that has, throughout my career, showed me a lot of love. I am elated to be here. I still want to see Messi take it home this year, but I’m just elated for the overall experience.”

Sean Paul’s dedication to making music for the world and spreading the Jamaican reggae-dancehall culture has earned him many awards and accolades, including the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 2004 for his second studio album Dutty Rock. He is currently the only Jamaican artiste to have won an American Music Award for Favourite Pop/Rock Male Artiste. In addition to being one of the first Jamaican artistes to perform in Kazakhstan and Madagascar, the multiplatinum artiste has ignited stages in well over 100 countries.

Since touching down in Qatar, Sean Paul has already made appearances. On Friday, he performed for the FIFA World Cup volunteers, supported by his disc jockey Shaun ‘CopperShaun’ Anderson, where he hailed Jamaica and the Reggae Boyz and expressed hopes for them to make it to the World Cup in the future.

Sean Paul shared: “The performance was special because it was for a special group of people, persons from all over the world, who volunteer their time for the FIFA World Cup for the entire one or two months of the games. I mean, anytime in front of an audience is special, but all of them carried flags to represent the countries or territories they come from, and my understanding is that they voted for me to come and perform for them, [so] I felt special about that.”

Grammy-nominated reggae star Julian Marley, son of late reggae icon Bob Marley, also performed on Thursday, December 8, for the FIFA Fan Festival line-up of events which featured over 100 hours of live music. Sean Paul expects his performance with the band to be dynamic and electrifying, and he said he is looking forward to the live interaction and feedback. He also shared that while he is on that side of the earth, he must have Arabic Biryani.

“I like to check out all the types of food I can. I like Biryani made with like a curry chicken or lamb, similar to a Pelau or Jambalaya, and I don’t have a particular place I go for it, but I want to have it. By the way, I don’t think you eat a good lamb chop until you come to the Middle East. I feel awesome just to know I had no idea I’d be here in Qatar or no plans to be here, but I am. A lot of jetlag, but still feeling the excitement. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Post Malone is here. I got to see my bredrin Stonebwoy as well. I’m just going to go and have fun on this big day,” Sean Paul said.