In retrospect, maybe K’naan wasn’t the best endorsement choice for the 2010 World Cup

While researching my previous post, about a FIFA World Cup corporate sponsorship gone (modestly) sideways, I managed to get Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) stuck in my head. This should be unsurprising: if there’s one thing I know about the World Cup (and there’s one thing I know about the World Cup), it’s that Waka Waka was the tournament’s official theme song way back in 2010.*

Anyway, as you may have gathered, I’m no expert on World Cup theme songs. When a Nepali played Waka Waka in my honor, I conversationally informed him that the theme song back in 2006 was Wavin’ Flag by K’naan.

As it turns out, I was wrong: Waving Flag was a) also a thing in 2010, and b) never the official theme song of the World Cup. But at least I’m not the only person to get mixed up by these two songs. According to a recent evaluation of World Cup music by the Wall Street Journal:

Although it wasn’t the “official” World Cup song, Coca-Cola’s anthem “Wavin’ Flag” gave “Waka Waka” a run for its money as football fans’ favorite song in 2010. The catchy tune became a No. 1 iTunes hit in 17 countries.

As I was saying, my previous post concerned a FIFA World Cup corporate sponsorship gone (modestly) sideways. Which reminded me that this sort of self-sabotage is really nothing new to this year’s World Cup. Indeed, I’d like to (modestly) suggest that perhaps FIFA could have done a more thorough background check on K’naan before allowing Coke to let his work become forever associated with a sporting event that would eventually become notorious for bribe-taking and match-fixing:

Way before waving flag in the FIFA
I was a dreamer life was a gamble
Born in a casino, but god never give burdens you can’t handle

(Lyrics from K’naan – Better)

*Which explains why it was also the unofficial theme song of the Nepali village I inhabited for a few months back in early 2011.


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