Robbie Williams gives middle finger during World Cup opening ceremony performance

Robbie Williams will help kick off The World Cup in Russia

Spanish World Cup victor Iker Casillas, alongside Russian supermodel Natalia Vodianova, brought the World Cup trophy onto the pitch in a sleek Louis Vuitton travel case, before Williams opened the song and dance numbers with the ever-reliable Let Me Entertain You.

Around 500 dancers, gymnasts and trampolinists will also be performing in an opening ceremony that will pay homage to all things Russian.

Official FIFA ambassador - and former Miss Russia - Victoria Lopyreva then emerged with the official match ball for the World Cup opener, while former Brazil star Ronaldo was accompanied by official mascot Zabivaka.

Argentina's Nestor Pitana will referee the opening World Cup match on Thursday when hosts Russian Federation play Saudi Arabia, FIFA has announced.

Tomorrow Morocco's kick-off game against Iran will take place in the St. Petersburg Stadium at 3:00 p.m.

# Russian president Vladimir Putin declared the World Cup open after a glittering opening ceremony on Thursday.

Earlier, Williams kicked off a mini pre-show rehearsal on his Instagram, filming himself getting ready for his World Cup performance. Check out some more reactions to Williams' performance, below.

Many were left surprised when Federation Internationale de Football Association announced they had lined up the former Take That member to perform at the opening ceremony.

People from all over the world have gathered around here so they can see Russia's largest stadium announcing the start of the month-long global football festival.

The British singer and songwriter was performing one of his hit singles "Rock DJ", and could be heard saying "I did this for free" before flipping the camera off. Along with Williams, celebrated Russian soprano Aida Garifullina later joined him on stage.

The hosts dominated their opening match, taking a 5-0 win in Moscow.

And just when fans thought the performances were over, Williams pumped up the crowd once again, exclaiming, "Can I kick it?!"

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