Entertainment

Robbie Williams to open World Cup despite Party Like A Russian track

The singer will perform at the opening ceremony at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium on Thursday.

The decision to book Robbie Williams to perform at the opening ceremony of the World Cup has raised eyebrows, with a song called Party Like A Russian among the former Take That star’s back catalogue.

The track, which appears to criticise the excesses of Russian oligarchs, was the lead single on his 2016 album, The Heavy Entertainment Show.

It features lyrics such as: “It takes a certain kind of man with a certain reputation to alleviate the cash from a whole entire nation.

“Take my loose change and build my own space station, ain’t no refutin’ or disputin’ – I’m a modern Rasputin, subcontract disputes to some brutes in Louboutin, act highfalutin’ while my boys put the boots in.”

Fifa did not comment on whether the song would form part of Williams’ performance, saying the set list would be kept as a “surprise”.

Russian soprano Aida Garifullina will also entertain the crowd in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on Thursday.

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

A spokeswoman for football’s world governing body said: “We are extremely happy to have been able to gather such a high-level line-up of artists for the opening ceremony, which for the first time and for the benefit of the fans in the stadium and watching on TV will take place just half an hour before kick-off and will focus on musical performances.

“Robbie Williams and Aida Garifullina are extremely popular artists, and they will undoubtedly entertain and warm up the crowd before the hosts take to the pitch to play Saudi Arabia on June 14.

“Please understand that the track list for the opening ceremony of the 2018 Fifa World Cup has been agreed between the artists, Fifa, and the local organising committee, who would like to keep this as a surprise for the public until the show.”

Williams said he was “happy and excited” about the “unique performance” in front of 80,000 fans and many millions all over the world and that it was a boyhood dream.

He 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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