Fox Apologizes for Robbie Williams' Obscene Gesture at World Cup

Robbie Williams
Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

The British pop star got the World Cup off to a swinging start with his live performance at the opening ceremony in Moscow. The "Let Me Entertain You" singer caused a minor controversy when he flipped the middle finger at TV cameras during the show (leading to Fox, which was carrying the event life in the U.S., to publicly appologize to viewers). Williams didn't explain his reason for the gesture, but the 44-year-old singer had been heavily criticized before the ceremony for accepting the invitation to perform in a country known for its laws banning homosexual "propaganda."

The singer was performing his "Rock DJ" as part of the opening ceremony at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow before the opening game between Russia and Saudi Arabia when he gave the middle finger directly into the camera on live television.

Fox is apologizing after the opening ceremony of the World Cup on Thursday featured U.K. singer Robbie Williams making an obscene gesture at the camera.

Williams was performing his song "Rock DJ" as part of the opening festivities at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow before the first game between Russia and Saudi Arabia when he gave the middle finger directly into the camera on live television. 

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Fox said, "The 2018 FIFA World Cup opening ceremony was a newsworthy event produced by a third party and carried live on Fox. As it was broadcast live, we did not know what would happen during Robbie Williams’ performance and we apologize."

The singer's performance was part of a short 20-minute opening ceremony, which also featured dozens of dancers, flame-throwing machines and young women wearing skirts stylized as flags of the World Cup's 32 participating teams. Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a speech afterward, and stayed to watch the game, in which the Russian team routed the Saudi team 5-0. Roughly 78,000 people showed up at Luzhniki for the game.

The World Cup, hosted by Russia for the first time, is set to run in the country's 11 cities through July 15.