Brazil legend Ronaldo and British pop star Robbie Williams were the stars of the show as the 2018 World Cup in Russia got under way with the opening ceremony.
The Russian fans inside Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium could hardly have asked for a better start to the tournament, as the glitzy ceremony was followed by the host nation demolishing Saudi Arabia 5-0.
Prior to the action on the pitch, Robbie Williams performed a number of his hit songs alongside Russian soprano Aida Garifullina while performers emerged onto the field dressed in the colours of the flags of all 32 teams and carrying a sign bearing the name of each nation.
Brazil star Ronaldo came out with a young child carrying the official World Cup ball, which was sent to the International Space Station crew in March and came back to earth earlier this month.
The two-time World Cup champion shaped to take the opening kick of the tournament but pulled out, inviting the child to pass it to the official World Cup mascot, a wolf named Zabivaka.
Russian president Vladimir Putin was also in attendance and gave a speech to the crowd.
“We are sincerely happy to host the World Cup in our country,” he said. “Football is truly loved here.
“Whatever traditions we hold, football brings us together in one single team and we are united by our affection for this spectacular and vibrant game.
“I wish all the teams success and an unforgettable experience to fans. Welcome to Russia.”
After Putin, Fifa president Gianni Infantino also gave a speech in Russian, English and Arabic.
“As of today, for one month football will conquer Russia and from Russia football will conquer the whole world – enjoy the biggest celebration on earth,” he said.