Maluma isn't exactly kicking off the World Cup on a high note ... a reporter put him on the spot over his decision to perform -- as other artists boycott -- so, he stormed out of the interview.
The "Hawái" singer sat down for an interview Friday, two days before the start of the FIFA World Cup, with Israel's state-owned Kan TV and it quickly got heated when the interviewer asked Maluma about his thoughts on Qatar's human rights violations.
Maluma teamed up with Nicki Minaj and Lebanese singer Myriam Fares for the official FIFA Fan Festival anthem ... and he was asked if he had a problem with Qatar's reputation.
Maluma dodged the first question with skill, saying he's performing because he enjoys life, music and soccer -- but when pressed for more than that, Maluma stood up, asked someone off camera if he needed to answer at all, then simply stormed off and called the reporter "rude."
Sources with direct knowledge tell TMZ ... Maluma's performing at the World Cup strictly because, as he said, he loves the sport. We're told he was a soccer player growing up in Colombia and left the sport to become an artist, but it's been always been a dream of his to perform at a World Cup.
What's odd about Maluma's heated interview is ... the network reporter giving him a hard time for, in his words, "whitewashing" Qatar, is actually there in Qatar covering the World Cup and in doing so, publicizing it.
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Meanwhile, other artists set to perform during the competition include Sean Paul, J Balvin and Black Eyed Peas among others.