Best Football World Cup Opening Ceremonies

The 2018 football World Cup in Russia is under way and although the on-field antics have kept us riveted to our seats, the opening ceremony was average at best.  You’d think a country with such a rich culture would’ve tapped into what makes Russia unique… but no, it was left to aging British pop star Robbie Williams to set the tone and the tone wasn’t great!
Just think what a spectacle they could have created with the iconic images of Russia.  Bearded Cossacks on matching white steeds, Saint Basil’s Cathedral or the Winter Palace under lights, Faberge Eggs and even those little Babushka dolls could surely have inspired someone somewhere to come up with a distinctly Russian event.
With that in mind let’s take a look at 3 World Cup ceremonies that made for compelling viewing:

South Africa 2010  

South Africa 2010 opening ceremony
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In a dazzling ceremony with a giant smoking calabash as the focal point, South Africa produced one of the most culturally relevant and exciting World Cup ceremonies in history.  As the first-ever host on the African continent the Rainbow Nation took great care to be inclusive of the football giants of Africa, celebrating the prowess of not only the national team but of World Cup squads from Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Algeria.
It was a moment to remember when Shakira partnered local afro-pop legends Freshlyground in the Waka Waka World Cup anthem, a performance supported by R&B sensation R Kelly and the Soweto Spiritual Singers.  The most memorable images that define the event were that of the African continent displayed as the warm and nurturing Cradle of Humankind.
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There were representatives from every South African tribe appropriately garbed in traditional dress… and dancers, drummers and fly overs that brought a tear to the eye of even the most hard-nosed ‘Saffer’.  It was a delightful spectacle of colour and sound that will remain deep within me as a proud African child!

Brazil 2014

Brazil 2014 opening ceremony
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Brazil announced itself as a co-conspirator of high end entertainment with its creative introduction to the 2014 World Cup.  It featured a giant football as the centre piece; a ‘living ball’ which burst open as the ceremonial coup de grace to reveal Latino singing superstar Claudia Leitte.  The glamorous Brazilian pop icon was later joined by Jennifer Lopez and America rap artist Pitbull as she belted out the ‘We Are One’ anthem in full voice.

Nature, flowers and the mighty Amazon River featured heavily in an event characterised by bright, bold and beautiful colours that were only overshadowed by dancers, drummers and ancient boats men held aloft by a personified tide.  
With the strains of the Samba throbbing around the Arena de Sao Paulo and images of football-inspired acrobats pulling off mind-bending stunts, the stage was set for the greatest show on earth!

South Korea and Japan 2002  

Gongs, bells, drummers and Samurai swords greeted viewers to the 2002 football World Cup jointly hosted by South Korea and Japan.  It was an eclectic mix of traditional costumes, enthusiastic kids and a theme that represented harmony, sharing and communication.
A troupe of perfectly choregraphed dancers in peaked black hats and bright yellow and blue outfits cut in the traditional Japanese Kimono style created an extraordinary visual illusion of duality.  As can be expected from hosts hailing from the Far East, the symbols of good and bad, light and darkness - Yin and Yang - took centre stage.  It was an event that successfully embraced the cultural reference points of the Orient to loudly declare the shared location of the FIFA World Cup!
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Published: 06/20/2018