Fox is apologizing after the opening ceremony of the World Cup on Thursday featured U.K. singer Robbie Williams gesturing with his middle finger.
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 made the gesture directly into the camera on live television.
In a statement given 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.”
Robbie's Middle finger . FOX Apologizes. pic.twitter.com/9xWqpYtaqv
— Anttention Media (@anttentionmedia) June 15, 2018
Williams’ 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 afterwards, and stayed to watch the game, in which the Russian team routed the Saudi Arabian team 5-0. Roughly 78,000 people showed up at Luzhniki for the game.
The World Cup, hosted by Russia for the first time ever, is set to run in the country’s 11 cities through July 15.
Russia 2018: Paul Pogba’s late goal breaks Australia’s resistance
Paul Pogba’s late goal broke Australian resistance to give France a winning start in a Group C after they had earlier benefitted from a controversial VAR decision to score the game’s opening goal.
The video assistant referee penalised Australia’s Josh Risdon for a foul on Antoine Griezmann, allowing the Atletico Madrid forward to dispatch a penalty, the first World Cup goal influenced by VAR.
However, a moment of madness from French defender Samuel Umtiti, who handled Aaron Mooy’s free-kick, enabled Australia to equalise through Mile Jedinak’s penalty in Kazan.
And they looked on course to hold one of the pre-tournament favourites until Pogba’s lobbed effort deflected off Australia full-back Aziz Behich and the crossbar to fall inches over the goal-line.
Amid the large clusters of gold provided by around 10,000 Socceroos supporters, France initially assumed control of this Group C opener despite the long journey from their Moscow training base.
Kylian Mbappe sparkled early on, racing beyond the Australia backline to test goalkeeper Mat Ryan after 93 seconds.
That sparked a concerted offensive by Didier Deschamps’ team but Australia stemmed the tide as the half progressed.
Going behind stirred Australia into a response in the second period and Aston Villa’s Jedinak converted a penalty Umtiti had senselessly handled another dangerous Mooy delivery.
But Pogba’s winner, confirmed by goal-line technology, ensured France opened the tournament with three points.
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