World Cup Opening Ceremony: Heads up, soccer fans: The 2018 World Cup in Russia is coming up. The event, kicking off June 14, will take place in various cities across Russia, from Moscow to St. Petersburg to Sochi.
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) said this year’s opening ceremony will have a “slightly different format,” focusing on “musical acts and will take place much closer to kick-off.”
Read on for a look at what to know ahead of the opening ceremony.
Where is it? The opening ceremony will take place at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium. The Luzhniki Stadium. When is it? The opening ceremony will take place at 5:30 p.m. local time (10:30 a.m. ET), just 30 minutes before Russia and Saudi Arabia spar off to officially commence this year’s World Cup.
Who’s performing? World Cup Organizers announced on June 11 that British singer Robbie Williams will perform at the World Cup opening ceremony on Thursday. In the 1990s, Williams was a part of the pop group “Take That.”
The festivities laid on in the lead-up to the 2018 FIFA World Cup have all been building to Thursday’s big kick-off, with the opening ceremony to be held at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
FIFA recently confirmed former Take That star and “Angels” singer Robbie Williams will perform, as will actor Will Smith and Russian soprano Aida Garifullina. The World Cup trophy will be presented by Brazil icon and two-time world champion Ronaldo.
Russia will open the tournament against Group A opponents Saudi Arabia, but before the competition starts, the hosts will have a chance to show why they deserved the chance to stage the tournament.
Their selection as World Cup hosts was met with derision from some amid claims of corruption used to acquire hosting rights and the decision to stage the competition in the eastern European country.
However, this is the nation’s opportunity to illustrate why they can be a success in the role of hosts, with opening ceremonies usually featuring a celebration of the home country’s culture.
Read on for a breakdown of what we know about the 2018 World Cup opening ceremony, including confirmed performers, start time and how you can watch the entertainment.
“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,” Williams said in a statement.
Additionally, Russian soprano Aida Garifullina will perform alongside Williams while Brazilian soccer star Ronaldo — a two time World Cup champion — is also present during the opening ceremony, according to FIFA.
Williams previously recorded a cover of “Three Lions” as England’s theme song for the 2010 World Cup, but he’ll have a different hand in 2018.
Per the official website, Williams spoke of his excitement after being announced as a late addition to the opening ceremony:
“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. 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.”
Germany midfielder Toni Kroos may not have had plans to attend Russia’s curtain-raiser against Saudi Arabia or the opening ceremony, but the arrival of his favourite singer, Williams, may change that.