ALSO READ: Hosts Russia kick off World Cup with 5-0 win
It was president Vladimir Putin for whom the Russians cheered their heart out. Not once but twice, when the president stopped to take a breath.
Dapperly dressed in a suit, the Russian president spoke for about two minutes and the crowd lapped it up. He said hosting the World Cup is like “love at first sight” and welcomed all to come and enjoy Russia. He recalled Russia’s first international game in 1897 and emphasized on football’s power to unite, defying differences in language, ideology and faith.
Williams belted out “Let me entertain you”. To be politically correct, Williams decided not to sing the other song about Russia that had led to quite a lot of raised eyebrows.
“I would love to ‘Party like a Russian’. Unfortunately, I’ve been asked not to do ‘Party like a Russian,” he told the agencies after his rehearsal on Thursday. Williams immediately added: “Actually, it has nothing to do with not being asked. It’s about me doing my biggest hits that are the best known.”
The lyrics of the 2016 number says: “It takes a certain kind of man with a certain reputation, to alleviate the cash from a whole entire nation.” In the accompanying music video, ballerinas twirl around Williams in a lavish setting. Certain sections of the media drew immediate parallels and in response, Williams had tweeted: “This song is definitely not about Mr. Putin.”
Williams, who has previously performed at private parties organized by wealthy Russian business people, said he loved coming to Russia.
And in his two-bit part in the 15-minute long opening ceremony, ‘Phenomenon’ Ronaldo sold a dummy. Walking with a little one, he was given a ball to kick. He feigned and kicked the air. A man dressed like the wolf Zabivak, mascot of the World Cup, gave him a high five. All puffed up at the wrong places, that beast who was a terrific beauty with the ball seemed a long-forgotten memory.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s spoke in Russian and hardly got a clap as the crowd was getting impatient for some real action.
Thank heavens, FIFA still kept it short and painless.