The Opening Ceremony of the World Cup, like the event itself, is both widely anticipated and already controversial.
At least it won't be boring.
Set to debut a little less than two hours before Brazil and Croatia, the Opening Ceremony should be a party like only Brazil can throw. Let's take a look at what you can expect from the event.
When: Thursday, June 12 at 2:15 p.m. ET
Where: Itaquerao Stadium, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Opening Match: Brazil vs. Croatia at 4 p.m. ET
Watch: ESPN; WatchESPN
So, what can we expect from the opening ceremony?
FIFA.com gets us started:
'The Opening Ceremony is a tribute to Brazil and its treasures: nature, people football,' said the show’s Belgian artistic director Daphne Cornez, after overseeing another of the many rehearsals that will take place this month. 'The sense of excitement here is amazing and everyone is very motivated. It doesn’t matter whether they’re feeling tired or hot sometimes or if they have to go through routines again and again: they just keep on smiling. It’s amazing.'
Each of the country’s treasures is represented in the show by characters and props. The focal point of the show is a central, “living” LED ball made up of more than 90,000 light clusters producing a luminance of 7,000 Nits.
While the ceremony will last 25 minutes, the organisers estimate that 20 hours of preparation will go into each of those minutes, with around 84 hours of rehearsals taking place before the big day.
Highlighting the ceremony will be a performance from musical artists "Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull and massed ranks of samba dancers, capoeira performers and Salvadorean drummers," according to Jonathan Watts of the Guardian.
The duo will likely be performing the official World Cup song, "We Are One (Ole Ola)," which also features Brazilian artist Claudia Leitte. But that song has been at the center of controversy itself, as the Associated Press writes (via Billboard):
Although Brazilian Claudia Leitte is also featured in the official theme, critics say they don't understand why Cuban-American rapper Pitbull and Bronx-born Puerto Rican singer Jennifer Lopez were chosen for the song when there are so many other great musicians in the land of Bossa Nova.
They also complain that the song is mostly in English and Spanish, leaving only a few seconds at the end for Leitte to sing in her native Portuguese.
Judge it for yourself:
Of course, J-Lo was almost a no-show. FIFA officials had announced she was backing out of the performance, citing "production issues," but a representative for Lopez told Sheila Cosgrove Baylis of People said she would indeed be performing:
Jennifer has always wanted to participate in the World Cup opening ceremonies. We have been trying to work out scheduling and logistics. Any statements to the contrary were premature. Jennifer would not want to disappoint her fans or fans of futbol. She will be there.
Don't be fooled by the production issues she's got, she's still Jenny from the block. Or something like that.
One thing you won't have to worry about hearing—boring speeches. We may all appreciate that, but the reason the speeches have been cancelled is certainly a worry, per BBC Sport:
Football's world governing body, Fifa, has announced that there will be no speeches at the opening ceremony of the World Cup in June. Last year, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was booed by fans at the opening match of the Confederations Cup—a curtain-raiser for the World Cup.
In an interview with DPA news agency, Fifa head Sepp Blatter expressed concern about social unrest in Brazil. He said he hoped the event would play a part in calming down the protests.
We shall see. It seems optimistic to think that there won't be protests or riots in Brazil.
But let's be honest—all the songs, and dancing, and performances are really just window dressing. The real opening ceremony will be when the host nation kicks off the tournament against Croatia.
It should be a positive result for Neymar and company. Not only do they have the superior team, but Croatia will be without star striker and Bayern Munich man Mario Mandzukic, suspended for the first match. Midfielder Luka Modric may be a star, but surely he alone can't will his team to victory over the superior Brazilian side.
And if Brazil wins that opening match, well, you can bet folks are going to forget about that silly little song very quickly. They'll be too busy singing whatever songs please their hearts and honor their team.
And that, folks, is what the World Cup is all about.
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