Robbie Williams has come under fire for his performance at the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup 2018.
The ‘Angels’ singer performed to a crowd of 80,000 people at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on Thursday (June 14), shortly before the opening game between Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Robbie sang three songs in total, ‘Let Me Entertain You’, ‘Feel’ and ‘Angels’. See footage below.
— Shuj' (@ChocMilkSheikh) June 14, 2018
Critics had called upon the former Take That turned solo star to boycott the World Cup in the wake of Russia’s alleged involvement in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal.
— Robbie Williams (@robbiewilliams) June 11, 2018
“There’s lots of ways to make money Robbie Williams, but selling your soul to a dictator shouldn’t be one of them,” wrote head of the global Magnitsky justice campaign, Bill Browder.
“Shame on you. This message is on behalf of Sergei Magnitsky, Boris Nemtsov, Anna Politkovskaya, Natalia Estimirova, victims of MH17, 10,000 dead Ukrainian soldiers…”
There’s lots of ways to make money @robbiewilliams, but selling your soul to a dictator shouldn’t be one of them. Shame on you. This message is on behalf of Sergei Magnitsky, Boris Nemtsov, Anna Politkovskaya, Natalia Estimirova, victims of MH17, 10,000 dead Ukrainian soldiers… https://t.co/gnpKHoUxrD
— Bill Browder (@Billbrowder) June 12, 2018
As The Guardian reports, Labour MP Stephen Doughty added: “It is surprising and disappointing to hear that such a great British artist as Robbie Williams, who has been an ally of human rights campaigns and the LGBT+ community, has apparently agreed to be paid by Russia and Fifa to sing at the World Cup opener.”
“At a time when Russian jets are bombing civilians in Syria, the Russian state is poisoning people on the streets of Britain, as well as persecuting LGBT+ people in Chechnya and elsewhere – let alone attempting to undermine our democracies – I can only assume Robbie will be speaking out on these issues alongside his performance?”
Williams is yet to respond to the criticism. “I’m so happy and excited to be going back to Russia for such a unique performance”, Robbie previously said of his appearance.
“I’ve done a lot in my career, and opening the FIFA World Cup to 80,000 football fans in the stadium and many millions all over the world is a boyhood dream. 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.”
Russian tabloid newspaper Life held a round table discussion about the video, in which one individual described the video as “shit because it imparts the puny, vulgar Russian elite, which has nothing to do with aesthetics, beauty or romanticism”.
It has also been suggested that Robbie Williams may not be invited to perform in Russia again. However, politician Maria Baronova has said that “today’s elites are pleased with the depiction” of Russians in the video.
Williams later denied reports that the song was influenced by Russian President Vladimir Putin.