There are very few honors in sports that give entire nations more pride than hosting the World Cup.
Undoubtedly one of the biggest sporting events on the planet, the prestigious tournament presents hosts with an opportunity to showcase to the world what is unique about their country.
That is part of what makes the 2014 edition particularly special. Much of Brazil's cultural DNA is rooted around soccer (the Selecao is the only squad that has won five World Cups), making it an important moment in history—both for the country and the world—whenever a major international tournament returns to the home of the beautiful game.
And it's not just the tournament itself. Throw in Brazil's rhythmic roots, and the opening ceremony also promises to be a spectacle unlike anything we've ever seen.
Let's take a look at everything you need to know about the event.
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
List of Scheduled Performers: Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull, Claudia Leitte, Olodum
"Spectacle" may not even begin to describe what Brazil has in store for the rest of the world.
According to FIFA.com, the 25-minute opening ceremony will feature acrobatic gymnasts, trampolinists, capoeira performers and stilt walkers paying homage to Brazil and each country's "treasures."
The gala will culminate with on-stage appearances from Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull, Claudia Leitte and the group Olodum, who will perform the tournament's official anthem, "We Are One":
FIFA, via The Associated Press, recently speculated that Lopez would not be in attendance, but her rep shot down those rumors by telling People's Sheila Cosgrove Baylis that J.Lo wasn't going to let this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity slip away:
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.
Of course, while the song has skyrocketed in popularity over the last month, it has also been met with criticism in Brazil. J.Lo (Puerto Rican parents) and Pitbull (Cuban parents) were both born in the United States, and many Brazilians believe the anthem doesn't truly capture the soul of their music.
"What I don't like about the music is that it's a poor, dull, generic pop theme," said Gaia Passarelli, a Brazilian music journalist and a former VJ for MTV Brazil, via the AP. "It's a shame considering Brazil's rich musical tradition, which is admired all over the world."
Still, the presence of Leitte and Olodum—not to mention the preceding 25-minute show—should be enough to showcase to the world Brazil's artistic style and flair.
Olodum is a popular Brazilian drumming collective that will undoubtedly add a new dimension to the beat, while Leitte, one of the most prominent female singers in Brazil, while likely receive more attention than in the music video.
Either way, the opening ceremony will be about much more than a four-minute song. It's about putting Brazil's traditions on display, setting the stage for what is sure to be a captivating tournament in one of the biggest soccer capitals of the world.
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