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Robbie Williams avoids controversy with World Cup ceremony set-list

UK Sport | Published:

The ‘Angels’ singer was a surprise choice to lead the start of the 2018 finals in Russia.

Robbie Williams performed four songs as part of the opening ceremony for the 2018 World Cup – with his controversial single ‘Party Like a Russian’ not included on the set-list.

The decision to book the former Take That member to sing at the opening ceremony met with surprise when it was announced by FIFA on Monday.

His 2016 track ‘Party Like a Russian’ attracted negative press in the country as the song appears to criticise the excesses of Russian oligarchs.

The plans for the opening ceremony at the Luzhniki Stadium had been a closely-guarded secret.

Williams – described by FIFA as a ‘global music icon’ – performed at certain points throughout the scheduled 15-minute pre-tournament build-up.

The 44-year-old opened with his 1998 single ‘Let Me Entertain You’ at the start of proceedings after spending time on stage with former Brazil striker Ronaldo.

Williams caused controversy with his 2016 single 'Party Like a Russian'
Williams caused controversy with his 2016 single ‘Party Like a Russian’ (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

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She performed a duet of Williams’ smash-hit ‘Angels’ with the Stoke-born singer, who also brought the ceremony to a close by singing ‘Rock DJ’.

Former Spain captain Iker Casillas lifted the World Cup in 2010 and brought the trophy out ahead of the ceremony, with the 32 flags representing the competing nations unfurled during the the performance of ‘Angels’.

Ronaldo scored both goals as Brazil beat Germany to win the 2002 World Cup
Ronaldo scored both goals as Brazil beat Germany to win the 2002 World Cup. (Neal Simpson/Empics)

Williams said opening the event to 80,000 fans and many millions all over the world was a boyhood dream, and added: “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.”

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