Before the Selecao kick off against Croatia, and before the 64 fixtures culminating in the final in Rio de Janeiro a month later, Sao Paolo will welcome the world to Brazil.
The World Cup opening ceremony is always a must-see spectacle, but with the extensive soccer history surrounding Brazil—the hosts are the only nation to have won this tournament five times—the 2014 version figures to be unforgettable.
"The Opening Ceremony is a tribute to Brazil and its treasures: nature, people football," said the show’s Belgian artistic director Daphne Cornez, via FIFA.com. "The sense of excitement here is amazing and everyone is very motivated."
Let's take a look at everything you need to know about the event, which will signify the start of one of the greatest tournaments in all of sports.
Date: Thursday, June 12, 2014
Time: 3:15 p.m. BRT (local), 2:15 p.m. ET, 7:15 p.m. BST
Where: Arena Corinthians (AKA Arena de Sao Paulo), Sao Paulo, Brazil
According to FIFA.com, the opening ceremony will last about 25 minutes, ending with Pitbull, Jennifer Lopez and Claudia Leitte performing "We Are One," the official song of the 2014 World Cup:
It's no Waka Waka, but it'll do in pumping up the world for Brazil vs. Croatia, which is scheduled to kick off moments later at 4 p.m. ET (5 p.m. BRT (local); 9 p.m. BST).
There was speculation from FIFA, per the Associated Press, that Lopez wouldn't be there to perform, but her rep told People's Sheila Cosgrove Baylis that "Jenny from the Block" would indeed be in Brazil.
Whether or not she is in attendance though, there will be much more to the show. More than 600 dancers—ranging from acrobatic gymnasts, trampolinists, capoeira performers and stilt walkers—will participate in the performance, which took more than two months to design.
Flavio Silva, via FIFA.com, explained the importance of capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that combines dance and acrobatics:
Capoeira is one of the biggest symbols there is against discrimination. If you perform capoeira, there’s no way you’re not going to like black people, white people, fat people, thin people, ugly people and beautiful people. Capoeira is universal.
Whether it be at the Olympics, World Cup or another worldwide event, opening and closing ceremonies tend to be special because they so accurately showcase the cultural uniqueness behind the host nations. Countries take great pride in showing off to the world why they are special, and it tends to yield incredibly fascinating shows.
Again, with soccer being so deeply rooted into the culture of Brazil, and with the South American country being so passionate about its artistic traditions, this celebration is going to be awe-inspiring.
Of course, that's only appropriate for what's to follow.
The most successful soccer nation in the world is serving as host, there is no agreed-upon favorite (it feels like there are about five to seven countries that could legitimately hoist the World Cup trophy in Rio de Janeiro), many of the groups are wide open and once-in-a-generation type talents like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are at their peak.
In short, the grand opening ceremony will be succeeded by an even grander tournament.