×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Fox Apologizes for Robbie Williams’ World Cup Middle Finger Gesture

It’s only the first day of the FIFA World Cup, but scandal is already underway for the games held in Russia this year.

During the opening ceremony on Thursday, U.K. pop star Robbie Williams gave the middle finger to the camera while performing on the field at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow ahead of the opening game between Russia and Saudi Arabia. Russia won 5-0.

Singing a slew of his hits, Williams turned directly to the camera during his performance of “Rock DJ,” clearly changing the lyrics to “I did this for free” before lifting up his finger.

Fox released a statement condemning and apologizing for the gesture:

“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.”

Williams was later joined by Russian soprano Aida Garifullina. Russian president Vladimir Putin also made a speech during the opening ceremony, stating, “We are sincerely happy to host the World Cup in our country,” according to the BBC. “Football is truly loved here. Russia is an open, hospitable and friendly country.”

Fox and NBCUniversal’s Telemundo own the U.S. media rights for this year’s World Cup, for English- and Spanish-language broadcasts respectively, as well as the 2022 and 2026 events.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup runs through July 15. Upcoming matches include Egypt vs. Uruguay, Morocco vs. Iran, and Portugal vs. Spain. Here’s how to stream the games online.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • AMERICAN IDOL - "119 (Grand Finale)"

    Ryan Seacrest to Return for 'American Idol' Season 3 on ABC

    Ryan Seacrest will return as the host of “American Idol” for the music competition’s third season on ABC. Seacrest will also continue hosting and executive producing “On Air with Ryan Seacrest,” his nationally syndicated L.A. morning drive-time radio show. He also serves as co-host and executive producer on ABC’s “Live with Kelly and Ryan,” as [...]

  • Julian Fellowes

    'Downton Abbey' Creator Julian Fellowes on His Early Start as an Actor

    Julian Fellowes was all wrong for his time — at first. When he graduated from drama school in 1973, working-class dramas onstage were all the rage, and the aspiring actor struggled to get an agent. He eventually snagged a supporting role in “A Touch of Spring,” a West End comedy that required him to fall down a [...]

  • Mr Robot Final Season

    'Mr. Robot' Team Talks Sending the Hacker Drama Off in Style

    Creating shows in this golden age of television has pushed storytelling to new heights, bolstered network recognition with the debut of sole marquee series and driven top-tier talent to limited-event runs. But few of these hundreds of series to unroll over the past half-decade have also redefined an entire network while pumping out prolific content [...]

  • Emmy Contenders 2019

    Emmys 2019: Critical Last Looks on 'Game of Thrones,' 'Fleabag,' More Contenders

    With only days to go before the 71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, the final voting have long since been cast and counted. But hopes still abound for favorite series and performers. Here, Variety’s television critics look at the leading races, who’s going into the final stretch with some real heat and what they hope will [...]

  • Set di "Gomorra 4", regia di

    Italian Commissions Offer Big Incentives for TV Productions

    Italian TV is traveling around the world as never before, and giving audiences a deep dive into the country’s locations. They range from storied cities such as Rome, Venice, Naples and Milan to classic countryside backdrops, including Tuscany and Umbria. There is also the southern sensuality found in Apulia and Sicily, and, of course, the [...]

  • DOWNTON ABBEY

    TV Ratings: NBC's 'Downton Abbey' Special Less Than Grand

    NBC aired its “Return to Downton Abbey: A Grand Event” special Thursday night to mark the release of the new “Downton Abbey” movie. However, the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) and co. would probably turn up their noses at the 0.4 rating and 2.8 million viewers the special achieved last night. It was beaten in the [...]

  • Glow Netflix Emmy Comedy Race

    'GLOW' Renewed for Fourth and Final Season at Netflix

    The final bell is ringing for “GLOW.” The Netflix series has been renewed for Season 4, which will also be the show’s last. Series creators, executive producers, and showrunners Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch will return in those roles for the final season, along with executive producers Jenji Kohan, Tara Herrmann, and Mark Burley. The [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content