Robbie Williams to perform at 2018 SWC opening ceremony

2018-06-11 08:59
Ronaldo and Robbie Williams (FIFA.com)

London - On Thursday, June 14 just a few moments before Russia and Saudi Arabia kick-off the 2018 Soccer World Cup, three international stars will thrill the fans in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.

British pop star Robbie Williams will perform at the World Cup opening ceremony, the world football governing body FIFA and the singer's representatives confirmed.

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The award-winning singer formerly in the band Take That, who is best known for his hit single "Angels", will sing alongside Russian soprano Aida Garifullina shortly before the first official match starts.

The football glory that all players will be hoping to achieve on Russian soil will be represented by Brazil’s two-time World Cup champion Ronaldo.

Williams said in a statement on Monday that performing at the World Cup was "a boyhood dream" and it would be "an unforgettable show".

"I’m so happy and excited to be going back to Russia for such a unique performance. I’ve done a lot in my career and opening the FIFA World Cup to 80 000 football fans in the stadium and many millions all over the world is a boyhood dream," Williams said.

"We’d like to invite football and music fans to party with us in Russia, in the stadium, or to tune in their TVs a little earlier for an unforgettable show."

His song "Party Like a Russian" two years ago sparked controversy in Russia for promoting stereotypes about the country.

It included lyrics about a leader who "alleviates the cash from a whole entire nation, takes loose change and builds his own space station".

Williams told fans on Twitter at the time that the song "is definitely not about (Russian President Vladimir) Putin".

Last year, he offered to represent Russia in the Eurovision Song Contest in a jokey interview on Russian state-controlled Channel One television.

Williams told Andrei Malakhov, the host of the show "Pust Govoryat" or "Let Them Talk", in comments dubbed into Russian: "I'd like to represent Russia at Eurovision. Come on Russia, we can win!"

Williams grinned as he made the offer, adding however that he could see his manager "has already got his head in his hands".

Former Brazil striker Ronaldo - known as "O Fenomeno" - will also be taking part in the opening ceremony, FIFA said.

"The opening match is always a very symbolic one – it is that instant when you realise that the big moment you, as a player or fan, have been waiting for four years has finally arrived," believes Ronaldo.

"No one knows what will happen in the four weeks of the tournament, but everyone is sure that it will be memorable.

"Of course, it is also an emotional one for the hosts. After so much hard work, suddenly the whole world is gathered in your backyard to celebrate their love for football.

"I felt that in Brazil four years ago and I am now happy to share this excitement with the Russians as well."

The 2018 FIFA World Cup opening ceremony will have a slightly different format compared to previous editions of the tournament.

This time, the ceremony will focus on musical acts and will take place much closer to kick-off, just half an hour before the start of the match, which is scheduled for 17:00 (SA time).

One thing will remain the same, however: the underlying theme of celebrating not only football but also the host country, this time with a touching performance by one of Russia’s most acclaimed young voices, Garifullina.

“I never imagined I would be part of this huge celebration, the World Cup, happening in my own country,” says the soloist from the Vienna State Opera.

“And, on 14 July, we will find out for whom this precious dream will come true, back on the same stage, after a month-long festival of football in Russia.”

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