Robbie Williams promises 'unforgettable' performance at FIFA World Cup opening ceremony
Pop legend Robbie Williams has confirmed that he’ll be performing at the opening ceremony of the Fifa World Cup.
The ‘Angels’ icon will perform to a humungous crowd of 80,000 people at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on Thursday (June 14), shortly before the opening game between Russia and Saudi Arabia. The singer will be joined by Russian soprano Aida Garifullina for a one-off duet, and (presumably not on vocals) Brazilian soccer legend Ronaldo, who was a part of the winning teams in 1994 and 2002.
“I’m so happy and excited to be going back to Russia for such a unique performance,” Robbie said of the honor. “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. 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.”
As The Guardian points out, the former 'Take That' star is a keen soccer enthusiast. On Sunday he led an England side to victory in the Soccer Aid charity football event, featuring other stars including Usain Bolt and Mo Farah. The charity event, which raises money for Unicef, was co-founded by Robbie in 2006 and has raised more than £24 million for children in danger around the world. He also founded the LA Vale football team while living in Los Angeles.
Of course, Robbie's fans will be quick to point out the irony of his upcoming Moscow performance. Presumably, he will leave his hit track 'Party Like a Russian' out of his set-list and for good reason. The track, which portrays Russia's elite as unsmiling, wealthy autocrats who party on super-yachts and hire thugs to settle disputes by putting "the boots in", was roundly criticised in Russia upon its release in 2016.
With lyrics like “Alleviate the cash from a whole entire nation / Take my loose change and build my own space station,” it wasn't a big surprise that some Russian listeners took offense. Revisit the song via the music video below.
Meanwhile, Fifa says the opening ceremony will take place much closer to kick-off than usual, just 30 minutes before the start of the opening match. Curiously, there has been no mention of a performance of the official World Cup song, 'Live It Up', featuring Will Smith (who might be set to make a music comeback), Colombia-based pop star Nicky Jam, and Kosovan singer Era Istrefi.
The opening ceremony will be broadcast live around the world at 8 am PST. Check local listings for more information.