Africa: Gosh, Hope That Middle Finger Wasn't for Putin?!

Robbie Williams show the middle finger to the camera (screenshot).
15 June 2018

Here I am, at allAfrica's newsroom in Cape Town, glued to the TV screen in anticipation of the exciting opening of the world's most popular sporting event we're accustomed to. Before I knew it I saw the footballers walk into the pitch.  A slap in the face, wasn't it?

In sharp contrast to previous editions, Russia's World Cup opening ceremony which started half an hour before the opening match had little to write home about...

British singer Robbie Williams pretty much headlined the grand finale which lasted little more than 10 minutes, but he made a strong impression! Dressed in a loud red suit, the British pop sensation's back-up dancers also dressed in red.  Caught up by World Cup fever, many football fans loved it - but also plenty others, myself included, found Williams infuriatingly irritating and his performance, frankly, boring despite the energy.

Before the opening ceremony started, Spain's former goalkeeper Iker Casillas and Russian supermodel Natalia Vodianova brought out the World Cup trophy.

Casillas proudly showed off the World Cup trophy to the cheering crowd, while Brazil striker Ronaldo took part in the opening kick, accompanied by a child and Zabivaka, the official mascot of the 2018 Fifa World Cup.

Performers spelled out the words "welcome" and "love" as part of the ceremony and Russia's President Vladimir Putin brought the opening ceremony to a close with a speech - receiving cheers from the crowd.

allAfrica's team always has something to say about *everything* and this event was no different:

It was a hot mess. Robbie Williams was not a good choice to begin with and his music is quite dated. Costumes. Were. Not. Interesting. Rather and the dancers sucked. This is a World Cup people; you're supposed to dazzle us. -  Melissa Britz

Hey Robbie Williams sent me back in time with his rendition of Rock DJ, Angel, Let Me Entertain You, Feel - sporting a funky haircut and brocade red suit, he set the stadium alight and had me, here in rainy Cape Town, rocking in my seat. President Vladimir Putin took to the podium to welcome the world. He described his country as hospitable and friendly and that they have waited for the World Cup 2018 for a long time. He said he hoped it would be an unforgettable experience for everyone. Hope it will be unforgettable for me as I back Egypt to go far in the Africa line-up while my reliable, brilliant champions Germany is number one on my list to make it two in a row! - Esther Rose

I think the opening ceremony was boring and it lacked diversity. My only favourite moment was seeing Ronaldo walk on to the pitch. I did not enjoy the music by Robbie Williams, I love his music but I think they could have found a younger and more relevant artist. - Nontobeko Mlambo

PS: Robbie Williams showed the middle finger to the camera during the ceremony. Not sure to who the message was directed to... I hope it wasn't for Putin!

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