Wyclef Jean is one of the biggest music stars in the world, having made his name with the Fugees and gone on to work with global names such as Shakira, Timbaland and Justin Timberlake. He also has another burning passion to go along with his love of music: football.
The Haiti-born superstar will perform at the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ Closing Ceremony along with Shakira and Carlos Santana, and he spoke to FIFA.com about what it means to be in Brazil for the global finals, his excitement at performing at the Maracana and his hopes for the future of Haitian football. With Wyclef having been particularly active on Twitter throughout the tournament, it only seemed fair to open the floor to followers of @FIFAWorldCup to #AskWyclef, adding to questions from FIFA.com
Question from Twitter user @danialsha98:
What has been your favourite goal in the 2014 FIFA World Cup?
We’re always talking about goals but I just love the goalies. I felt what Tim Howard pulled off is incredible, I think Germany have an incredible goalkeeper too. As far as the actual goals are concerned, I could pick any of Neymar’s efforts. I felt he was incredible before he got injured. There were some incredible goals.
Question from Twitter user @prernaa7:
Who has surprised you the most in the World Cup?
The energy of the African teams, the endurance and how far they went; Algeria, Nigeria, Ghana. It shows that there’s so much improvement. I think the USA, they surprised a lot of people too.
Question from Twitter user @JouJouzNYC:
What do you think the Haitian national team must do to qualify for the next World Cup? How would you do it?
They need to put me in charge, right? It’s obvious! [laughing]. The clubs in Haiti, when the kids start at a very young age, that’s the most important thing. I think we as Haitians we should invest in the future of football and that means investing more in the younger kids. We could talk about the World Cup, qualifying in four years, but there has to be something about when the kids start off very young, the same way I started off very young with a guitar and it put me in this position.
Also, the Haitians that are outside of Haiti and are playing all over the world, I think giving support to the national team and on your time off going back to them and giving them guidance. I think that we need a real budget for focus on sports. But something that can really identify with football because football is still the national sport. I’d like to see some money poured into kids at a very young age.
How special do you think it’s been having the World Cup in Brazil?
The World Cup in Brazil is definitely incredible because we as football fans identify a lot with Brazilian football, the style of how it’s played and the excitement of the culture. The World Cup could be anywhere but the fact it’s in Brazil, this is one of those World Cups that will be memorable and we’ll never forget.
Have you bumped into any football stars?
Ronaldo was at my hotel and the last time I acted the way I did was with Michael Jackson. I was trying to get from my floor down to him to get a picture but he had already left. I nearly cried!
You’re obviously a very proud Haitian, but have lived in USA for a long time, what did you make of their performance at this tournament, and the buzz back in the States?
The performance was beyond great and I’m excited that the USA can now focus more on football. If we’re going to have that chance coming back in four years, there’s a lot of things that we have to work on. Keep in mind to get 16 chances blocked [by Tim Howard] means the opposition just ran through the defence like it was water. We definitely have to work on the defence, we have to work on endurance and also work on our attack too. It’s a great start because there’s something about US pride, they just don’t want to lose. Even when they lose, they say: ‘We might have lost but our goalie still won!’ I think that what it does is it gives us a fire and over the next four years more people are going to be watching and they’re going to be excited.
How does the Maracana compare to some of the venues you’ve played throughout your career?
It’s insane. The amount of people it holds, the space in there, the energy and the vibe too. I’ve seen it empty and you could feel there’s a vibe, an energy and a culture. Playing there is just one of those cool things that I can check off my list. I think that the Fugees should definitely do a concert there, it’d be crazy. If the Fugees and the Marleys got together and we did a concert in there it would be insane. Maybe that’s something I’ll work on. We can have a friendly football match before the concert.
Do you see music and football in a similar way, in that they bring people together?
Football and music have so many similarities, that’s why I love the sport so much. One is that there’s a lot of people who play football throughout the entire world, some of them are great but they never make it. That’s like music. There are very few of us who are chosen who get to go to the ‘leagues’ and get record deals and get on TV. The media chooses the stars. The minute that they do that now, there’s a lot of pressure that you get on top of your head. If you have a bad game the crowd can get on top of you. It’s the same with music if you have a bad record. They also share the endurance – it’s a patience game. We’re the studio and we gave you a hit record and people are then waiting for a new one, getting impatient: ‘where’s the next one?’ Finally when it gets to you, it’s like scoring a goal!
What’s your favourite World Cup moment?
It would have to be landing in Brazil after their loss. I will always remember that. I had my Brazilian jacket on. As I was getting on the plane, there were some Argentinians saying: ‘Are you sure you don’t want to take that jacket off? I’ll give you my Argentina one!’ For me that will always be the most memorable moment because it was just shocking.
And finally, your prediction for the Final itself?
Although my manager is a big Argentina fan, I think all 11 players from Germany will play as one. To me that’s the most important part as a football fan.