WORLD CUP 2018

Robbie Williams gives critics middle finger in World Cup show

Robbie Williams gives critics middle finger in World Cup show

Shaun Botterill

Getty Images

British singer Williams has received criticism for agreeing to appear at the opening ceremony of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Robbie Williams had a very clear message for his critics after singing in Thursday's opening ceremony of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Sings "I did this for free" then sticks up middle finger

At the end of his performance at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, the British artist changed the lyrics of his song 'Rock DJ' to "but I did this for free" - then surprised a global TV audience by turning to the camera and holding up his middle finger.

Singer criticised for agreeing to perform at World Cup

Williams, 44, has received criticism for agreeing to appear at the event amid strained relations between the United Kingdom and Russia - in the wake of the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury earlier this year - and general controversy surrounding the regime of president Vladimir Putin.

In March, British prime minister Theresa May confirmed that no UK royals or politicians would be attending the tournament.

Stephen Doughty, a Labour MP on the Home Affairs Committee looking into the suspicious deaths of Russians on British soil, said on Monday that it was "surprising and disappointing" that Williams had "agreed to be paid by Russia and Fifa".

"At a time when Russian jets are bombing civilians in Syria, the Russian state is poisoning people on the streets of Britain, as well as persecuting LGBT+ people in Chechnya and elsewhere, let alone attempting to undermine our democracies," Doughty added, "I can only assume Robbie will be speaking out on these issues alongside his performance?"

Williams accused of "selling soul" to appear at ceremony

Bill Browder, a high-profile critic of Putin, tweeted on Tuesday: "There's lots of ways to make money Robbie Williams, but selling your soul to a dictator shouldn't be one of them. Shame on you.

"This message is on behalf of Sergei Magnitsky, Boris Nemtsov, Anna Politkovskaya, Natalia Estimirova, victims of MH17, 10,000 dead Ukrainian soldiers..."

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