American entertainer Will Smith will be the star turn at the World Cup’s closing ceremony on Sunday, when he is hoping to put in a more convincing performance than Neymar.
The Fresh Prince of Bel Air actor will perform the official World Cup song ‘Live It Up’ at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium with co-performers Era Istrefi and Nicky Jam before the France-Croatia final.
The trio arrived in the Russian capital on Friday and went straight to a media conference and rehearsal at the stadium, where the 49-year-old actor, comedian, music producer and rapper was clearly the main attraction.
Asked which team he has been supporting, Smith said Brazil, as he has always had “a soft spot” for the country’s team, liked Pele when he was younger and is now a fan of Neymar, who he has “literally tried to meet 10 times” but never managed.
The mention of Neymar prompted a question from a Brazilian journalist about the Paris Saint Germain star’s mixed reviews in Russia: praise for his ball skills but ridicule for his play-acting.
Asked how he would rate Neymar’s acting, Smith laughed and said: “I’ve been in this business way too long to answer a question like that! But I think he did a spectacular job.
“Sometimes as an actor you make ‘Independence Day but every now and then you make Wild, Wild West.”
The former is one of Smith’s best-reviewed and most successful films, while the latter is not so.
All three performers were asked for their favourite player at the tournament and all said “Cristiano”, with Smith saying Portugal captain Ronaldo has “impeccable taste”.
This led to the inevitable follow-up Messi v Ronaldo follow-up, which again all three neatly sidestepped by saying both players are “fantastic”.
Jam, the US-born Reggaeton star with family links to Colombia, Dominica and Puerto Rico, said his favourite moment of the World Cup was Colombia’s game against England, which they lost on penalties.
Kosovan pop star Istrefi said she most enjoyed the “two Albanians who scored for Switzerland against Serbia”, a reference to Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri, who were later fined by FIFA for their ‘Albanian eagle’ goal celebrations.
FIFA has said the closing ceremony and final are expected to attract a global television audience of more than one billion people.