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Pop Star Robbie Williams To Perform At World Cup Opening In Moscow

English musician Robbie Williams (file photo)

World football's governing body, FIFA, says British pop star Robbie Williams will perform at the opening ceremony of the 2018 soccer World Cup in Moscow on June 14.

Williams and Russian soprano Aida Garifullina will perform ahead of the opening game of the competition between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia at Moscow's 81,000-seat Luzhniki Stadium.

Williams, 44, came to fame as a member of boy band Take That in the 1990s before launching a successful solo career.

He said in a statement on June 11 that performing at the World Cup was "a boyhood dream" and it would be "an unforgettable show."

His 2016 song Party Like A Russian was criticized by some Russians who said it promoted stereotypes about their country.

It included lyrics about someone who "alleviates the cash from a whole entire nation, takes loose change and builds his own space station."

Williams denied at the time that he was referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin, tweeting that the tune "is definitely not about Mr Putin."

Last year, Williams made a tongue-in-cheek offer to represent Russia at the Eurovision Song Contest.

According to an e-mail made public by a Ukrainian hacker group in 2016, Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich hired Williams to appear at a New Year's dinner for Putin's inner circle in Moscow in 2014.

The e-mail was part of a 1-gigabyte leak by the CyberHunta hacker group which allegedly contained documents belonging to Vladislav Surkov, a senior political adviser to Putin.

With reporting by AFP and dpa
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