Belgium cancel World Cup song after pressure from women's groups
Belgium will not record a World Cup song before heading to Russia following an outcry from women's groups that has led to their country's FA halting the project.
The Belgian FA and rapper Damso made public their collaboration in November via a Twitter video featuring Eden Hazard and Michy Batshuayi.
In answer to an escalating public outcry about their choice, the FA on Wednesday released a statement on their official website confirming Damso as the artist to record the song.
They called the Congolese-born rapper, who grew up in Brussels, "an example of integration," and added "the artist in question has had great success without being the focus of the least controversy."
However, Belgium's Women's Council in particular had voiced their concerns that some of the lyrics in previous songs by the rapper, whose real name is William Kalubi, were degrading towards women.
"The social controversy around the artist and the agitation of recent days have completely turned attention away from everything that is important for the Belgian FA," the body is quoted as saying by La Derniere Heure, noting that both parties had agreed to drop the project.
"We take full responsibility for this controversy and agitation. We will certainly learn the necessary lessons for the future in order to convey our positive values with even more conviction."
The Women's Council had sent an open letter to a number of bodies, including the national team's sponsors, at the start of the month, claiming Damso's songs had "lyrics full of disgust, of contempt and verbal violence towards women."
Ian is ESPN's French football correspondent. Twitter: @ian_holyman