Step aside, soccer players, Camila Cabello is next big soccer star to step on the field.
UEFA and Pepsi announced on Monday (May 9) that the “Bam Bam” singer will headline this year’s UEFA Champions League final Opening Ceremony presented by Pepsi. The performance is set to be a carnival-themed celebration, paying homage to Cabello’s Latin heritage. “My music, I always feel celebrates my heritage and my Cuban-Mexican heritage, so there’s going to be songs from Familia on there,” Cabello tells Billboard of the upcoming performance. “I can’t say much else, but I’m doing it for the Latinos, for sure.”
The performance was a natural fit for Cabello, who grew up watching the World Cup with her family every four years. “Out of every sport, it’s the only one I really understand and the one that gets me the most hyped,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to see a soccer game in person.”
Cabello has always been openly proud of her Latin culture, and on her recent studio album, Familia, that connection is deeply celebrated through vibrant instrumentals and a number of Spanish-language songs including “Celia,” “Hasta Los Dientes” featuring Maria Becerra and verses in Lola featuring Yotuel.
“I love where I come from,” Cabello says. “I love my culture. It brings me so much joy. I think it’s so incredible. I love Latin music, I love Latin culture. I think we’re just amazing as a community. Our music, our food, our people…so many things. I’m so proud, and that pride and love for it naturally spills into everything. Especially as I get older, I’m always trying to get closer to that for my own soul.”
Through making Familia and getting in touch with her vulnerability, the Grammy nominated star reveals that she “learned that there’s nothing wrong with me and I’m not broken.”
“I think in the beginning, I didn’t want to talk about [my mental health] because I felt I was crazy or something,” she added, noting that she was in a difficult mental space when writing her album. “But then opening up and talking about it, I was like, ‘Oh, I’m not crazy. Everybody goes through s— like this. I’m just human.'”
Does opening up about the ups and downs of life help her connect with her fans more? “Definitely,” she says. “I notice it when people come up to me on the street. There’s a lot of people that are like, ‘Hey, I really like what you posted the other day. Hey, I really like your album.’ People I can tell feel closer to me because they don’t feel like I’m this celebrity on a pedestal. I’m just a friend or someone they like as a person. I can feel that energy the more and more I share and am vulnerable, especially with this album.”
“It’s the most freeing,” she adds of being emotionally open. “For example, to me, this album, I was in the studio living 100% me and 100% honest, and it feels so good that you just end up carrying that towards every other aspect of your life, whether that’s your friendships, your interviews, red carpets, performances or whatever. I’m always like, ‘Oh, this is making me feel so much more at peace and so much more fun and attracting people who really know and love me.’ That feels so much better.”
Cabello found a vulnerable counterpart in Willow, whom she teamed up with for the dark-toned “Psychofreak,” in which the duo contemplate their all-too-relatable anxieties and lack of connection with others, making them feel alien among everyone else on Earth. “I’m not that much older than her, but I feel like she’s my younger sister and she’s such a genuine, real person,” Cabello said of her musical collaborator, who was someone she trusted to “talk some s—” on the song. “I feel like people don’t even know yet how talented she is. Her vocals, artistry, integrity, I really admire her and I just want everybody to love her because she’s awesome.”
Catch Cabello perform at UEFA Champions League final Opening Ceremony on May 28, as it airs in more 200 countries and territories around the world, just minutes before the biggest game in European club football gets underway. Fans will be able to tune in to watch the show via their local broadcaster and through the official UEFA TikTok and YouTube channels.
The singer is also among several music and football talent who will be supporting #Football4Refugees, an appeal launched by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to unite the global soccer community to raise funds for displaced people around the world. Last week, Pepsi announced that it will be the first global brands to partner with UNHCR, and PepsiCo’s philanthropic arm, the PepsiCo Foundation, donated $1million to #Football4Refugees bringing the company’s total humanitarian relief pledged to the global refugee crisis to nearly $15 million.