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Robbie Williams stuns fans after giving World Cup TV viewers the finger

  • WARNING MATURE CONTENT  
  • The opening ceremony saw a host of stars perform at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow before the first match
  • The United Kingdom were well represented as pop star Robbie Williams performed at packed out venue
  • But Williams courted controversy after sticking his middle finger up to the camera while leaving the pitch 

By Glen Williams and George Martin For Mailonline

Published: 11:00 EDT, 14 June 2018 | Updated: 12:20 EDT, 14 June 2018

Robbie Williams has sparked outrage after appearing to give the finger to the camera during a performance at the World Cup opening ceremony. 

Football fans exploded on Twitter after noticing the ageing singer stick his middle finger up when leaving the pitch following a performance of his hit song 'Angels' as part of Thursday afternoon's proceedings.

Twitter users were left stunned by Williams' antics with some blasting him for a 'lack of morals' and calling him 'desperate for attention'. 

Thousands of revellers packed inside the sold-out stadium to witness the dazzling opening ceremony - which was watched by an estimated one billion people worldwide.

Robbie Williams appeared to give millions of fans watching the opening ceremony the finger during proceedings on Thursday afternoon
Robbie Williams appeared to give millions of fans watching the opening ceremony the finger during proceedings on Thursday afternoon

Robbie Williams appeared to give millions of fans watching the opening ceremony the finger during proceedings on Thursday afternoon

The singer had earlier given fans a peace symbol before his performance in front of a packed crowd at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow
The singer had earlier given fans a peace symbol before his performance in front of a packed crowd at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow

The singer had earlier given fans a peace symbol before his performance in front of a packed crowd at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow

UK pop sensation Robbie Williams headlined the World Cup opening ceremony at the stadium in a red leopard-print suit
UK pop sensation Robbie Williams headlined the World Cup opening ceremony at the stadium in a red leopard-print suit

UK pop sensation Robbie Williams headlined the World Cup opening ceremony at the stadium in a red leopard-print suit

The Stoke-born singer takes to the stage as the dancers get into the spirit of the occasion during a lively performance in Moscow
The Stoke-born singer takes to the stage as the dancers get into the spirit of the occasion during a lively performance in Moscow

The Stoke-born singer takes to the stage as the dancers get into the spirit of the occasion during a lively performance in Moscow

Williams performed three songs as part of the ceremony - with his controversial single 'Party Like a Russian' not included on the set-list.

He didn't manage to steer clear of controversy entirely, however, after taking the decision to raise his middle finger to the cameras as he left the pitch.

One Twitter user said: 'What a joke! Watching with my kids and that happened? Wow.'

While another added: 'Robbie Williams is such a melt showing his middle finger!'   

'Worst opening performance ever at a FIFA World Cup goes to Robbie Williams #WorldCup,' another commented.

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. 

Enraged fans took to social media to protest against the decision soon after the announcement - slamming the organisers for not booking a Russian act.

After the swearing incident, one fan tweeted a picture of star with the caption: 'Robbie Williams has accurately conveyed my feeling towards this World Cup.'

While another said: 'Robbie Williams is an extremely dubious choice to open the World Cup.'

The 44-year-old former Take That star opened with his 1998 single 'Let Me Entertain You' at the start of the proceedings
The 44-year-old former Take That star opened with his 1998 single 'Let Me Entertain You' at the start of the proceedings

The 44-year-old former Take That star opened with his 1998 single 'Let Me Entertain You' at the start of the proceedings

Williams and opera star Aida Garifullina perform the smash hit 'Angels' in front of thousands of fans at Moscow's stadium
Williams and opera star Aida Garifullina perform the smash hit 'Angels' in front of thousands of fans at Moscow's stadium

Williams and opera star Aida Garifullina perform the smash hit 'Angels' in front of thousands of fans at Moscow's stadium

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 with the hit'.

The star's antics will no doubt worry X Factor bosses after he was recently picked to lead the lineup of the show's brand new judging panel alongside wife Ayda Field.   

According to the Mirror, the singer, 44, and his actress wife, 39, will join music mogul Simon Cowell on the panel when it returns in August in a deal rumoured to be worth around £10million.

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'.

Artists perform before the Group A match between Russia and Saudi Arabia, which opens the 2018 soccer World Cup
Artists perform before the Group A match between Russia and Saudi Arabia, which opens the 2018 soccer World Cup

Artists perform before the Group A match between Russia and Saudi Arabia, which opens the 2018 soccer World Cup

An entertainer balances on top of an inflatable football and juggles a further three as fire blazes behind him and the huge crowd watches in awe
An entertainer balances on top of an inflatable football and juggles a further three as fire blazes behind him and the huge crowd watches in awe

An entertainer balances on top of an inflatable football and juggles a further three as fire blazes behind him and the huge crowd watches in awe

Former Spain captain Iker Casillas lifted the World Cup in 2010 and brought the trophy out ahead of the ceremony
Former Spain captain Iker Casillas lifted the World Cup in 2010 and brought the trophy out ahead of the ceremony

Former Spain captain Iker Casillas lifted the World Cup in 2010 and brought the trophy out ahead of the ceremony

Casillas raises his hand to acknowledge the crowd after placing the trophy on a plinth, denoting it is up for grabs once more
Casillas raises his hand to acknowledge the crowd after placing the trophy on a plinth, denoting it is up for grabs once more

Casillas raises his hand to acknowledge the crowd after placing the trophy on a plinth, denoting it is up for grabs once more

Goalkeeper Casillas and model Natalia Vodianova show the World Cup trophy prior to the World Cup opening ceremony
Goalkeeper Casillas and model Natalia Vodianova show the World Cup trophy prior to the World Cup opening ceremony

Goalkeeper Casillas and model Natalia Vodianova show the World Cup trophy prior to the World Cup opening ceremony

Around 800 people were involved in the on-stage activities, which were held closer to kick-off than in recent finals.

Williams said opening the event to 80,000 fans and many millions all over the world was a boyhood dream, and 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.' 

Former Spain captain Iker Casillas lifted the World Cup in 2010 and will bring the trophy out ahead of the ceremony, with the 32 flags representing the competing nations being unfurled during the the performance of 'Angels'.

There will be around 800 people involved in the on-stage activities, which are being held closer to kick-off than in recent finals - with Williams not due to finish his set until 15 minutes before Russia get the tournament under way against Saudi Arabia.

Williams said opening the event to 80,000 fans and many millions all over the world was a boyhood dream, and 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.'

A host of dancers line the field, wearing footballs around their neck, as they dance to Robbie Williams' songs
A host of dancers line the field, wearing footballs around their neck, as they dance to Robbie Williams' songs

A host of dancers line the field, wearing footballs around their neck, as they dance to Robbie Williams' songs

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