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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.

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