Robbie Williams take centrestage at World Cup opening ceremony in Russia

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The World Cup got under way thisThursday afternoon in a short and sweet opening ceremony, with Robbie Williams dominating the centre of the park with a medley of his hits.

He did not play 'Party Like A Russian'.

Where previous ceremonies have featured lengthy performance-art projects about the environment, the football family and children being the future, this Russian effort was snappy: long on energy, and short on tree-hugging.

Williams was excellent, there were representatives from the competing countries, and a giant fire bird made out of crepe paper. There was, naturally, juggling, and the obligatory giant footballs.

Somebody played a harp, but not for long.

Ronaldo (the Brazil one) did some mucking about with a penalty shootout and the mascot, and that was about it.

There were no speeches during the ceremony segment, although President Putin did give a welcome before the match itself.

"Football is truly loved here and it is called love at first sight, since our first offical match here in 1897.

"I hope fans and teams enjoy their stay in Russia, an open, hospitable and friendly country with people who have the shared values.

"Football brings us altogether in one team, we are united by this spectacular game."

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