Shakira: I'm feeling the love

After performing at the kick-off concert for this FIFA World Cup™, Shakira will also contribute to Final day in South Africa when she sings the official tournament anthem, Waka Waka (This Time for Africa), before the players of Netherlands and Spain take the field at Soccer City.

The Colombian pop singer, who also performed prior to the 2006 Final in Germany, took time out from rehearsing to reflect on an "inspiring" month and explain to FIFA.com why she is rooting for Spain and why she has fallen in love with both football and her South African hosts.

What has struck you most about being in South Africa?
I think this whole month that I spent in South Africa has been so inspiring, so stimulating, one of the happiest months of my life in recent years. It's been so exciting to wake up every morning looking forward to the matches, looking forward to the newspaper just to open the sports section because I became such a football fanatic. The people of South Africa are definitely the highlight of this World Cup. They're amazing, they're so joyful, expressive and affectionate. I've been feeling the love since the first day I arrived, every day more and more. For the first time of my life, I arrived at immigration and I saw the immigration officers actually dancing and singing the Waka Waka. It's been such an amazing experience.

They're amazing, they're so joyful, expressive and affectionate.
Shakira on South Africans.

Have you been to any games?
I've been to three. I went to the first game right after the kick-off concert, Mexico-South Africa. I went to Argentina-Nigeria and to Spain-Paraguay. And tomorrow, Spain-Netherlands.

Which teams have you been following?
Of course I was supporting the Latin teams. I think they've played an amazing role in this World Cup. Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil. But I think the Spanish team is quite amazing. And I support them big time. It's my moral duty, I'm Hispanic and I have to support the Spanish team.

Can you give your prediction for the Final?
I wouldn't dare to predict the score but I think you have to believe the octopus. So whatever Paul says, I'll go with him.

Have you learned anything from practising and performing with the South African group Freshlyground?
Absolutely. Freshlyground are such an amazing group. Zolani's voice is very unique, it's incredible. I love their flavours and how they combine different influences and pop music. They're just an amazing talent. I've been so pleased to work with them and to count on their talent for the Waka Waka song.

What is your best memory of the tournament?
One of the most memorable moments I've experienced was when I was stuck in traffic going to the Argentina-Nigeria match and I saw people in the street, coming out of their cars, dancing and singing, and giving me so many hugs. I have never received so many hugs in one month! They're so affectionate, so sweet. All the time, you see a smile on their faces and that is quite inspiring. It has definitely shaped this World Cup. It has also influenced the entire environment, the surroundings and the tourist mood as well. Because I think the tourists feed from the locals' energy. And the locals have been so kind to them that no one can complain. You've seen that spirit of integration, respect and tolerance on the field and in the stadium too. You see how the soccer players hug themselves after a match, how the fans are completely in harmony with the football fans of the opposite team. I think that happens because this World Cup is being held here in South Africa. That influences everyone's state of mind in so many ways.