Robbie Williams avoids controversy with World Cup ceremony set-list

Robbie Williams avoids controversy with World Cup ceremony set-list

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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.

Russian harpist Alexander Boldachev then took centre-stage, with a large ‘fire bird’ entering the pitch carrying operatic performer Aida Garifullina. 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’.

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