Aren’t you just the rebel, Robbie Williams? During the FIFA World Cup opening ceremony, the former Take That singer decided to give the ‘one finger salute’ to the entire world!
With all eyes were turned towards Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on June 14, Robbie Williams, 44, didn’t miss his chance to cause a little trouble. The former Take That singer and UK music icon kicked off the 2018 FIFA World Cup in usual form, performing at the June 14 event — until he got close to the camera. In a blink of the eye, with quite literally the entire sports world watching, Robbie flipped the bird. Not a real reason was given, and Robbie continued his performance. Ultimately, after Aida Garifullina, a Russian soprano, arrived on a giant phoenix, she and Robbie sang his song, “Angels.” Well, that rude gesture wasn’t very angel-like, but it was kind of fun. After all, if you can get away with flipping off the world, wouldn’t you do it?
Overall, Robbie’s World Cup performance was the definition of extra. As Robbie sang, the field was full of acrobats, dancers dressed as soccer balls, flamethrowers and huge costumes. When Aida and Robbie had their duet, a parade of people dressed in the national colors of all the 32 countries taking part in the World Cup walked out. Towards the end, Brazil’s Ronaldo came out with a Russian child. It was beautiful.
“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,” Robbie said in a statement when FIFA announced him as the headliner. Robbie latest is Under The Radar Vol. 2, a collection of demos, B-sides and rarities. Oddly enough, Robbie released “Party Like A Russian” in 2016, a song that actually drags Russian oligarchs who funnel massive amounts of money overseas at the expense of the Russian people.
— Shuj (@ChocMilkSheikh) June 14, 2018
— Fabinho Van Guma (@markopolo94) June 14, 2018
Robbie’s performance caused quite a stir on the other side of the political world. After it was announced that he would headline the Opening Ceremony, the British superstar faced some backlash from his own country. “There’s lots of ways to make money Robbie Williams, but selling your soul to a dictator shouldn’t be one of them,” tweeted Bill Browder, the head of the global Magnitsky justice campaign (named after Sergei Magnitsky, the anti-corruption lawyer who was beaten to death while in police custody, per The Guardian.) “Shame on you.”
“It is surprising and disappointing to hear that such a great British artist as Robbie Williams, who has been an ally of human rights campaigns and the LGBT+ community, has apparently agreed to be paid by Russia and Fifa to sing at the World Cup opener,” Labour MP Stephen Doughty said. “At a time when Russian jets are bombing civilians in Syria, the Russian state is poisoning people on the streets of Britain, as well as persecuting LGBT+ people in Chechnya and elsewhere – let alone attempting to undermine our democracies – I can only assume Robbie will be speaking out on these issues alongside his performance?” No, but he can flip the bird, so that’s something.