Five memorable World Cup opening ceremonies12 june 2014, 15:15
The 2014 FIFA World Cup is the 20th edition of the FIFA World Cup, an international men's football tournament that is taking place in Brazil from 12 June to 13 July 2014. It is the second time that Brazil has hosted the competition, the previous being in 1950.
The national teams of 31 countries advanced through qualification competitions that began in June 2011 to participate with the host nation Brazil in the final tournament. A total of 64 matches are to be played in twelve cities across Brazil in either new or redeveloped stadiums, with the tournament beginning with a group stage.
More than 60,000 people will be in Sao Paulo's Corinthians Arena to watch the ceremony and kick-off match between Brazil and Croatia. Around a billion people are expected to tune in on TV worldwide.
Five memorable moments at World Cup opening ceremonies ahead of the 2014 edition in Sao Paulo:
2010 -- South Africa
Africa's first ever World Cup -- which Sepp Blatter had promised he would deliver when he was first elected in 1998 -- enjoyed a sumptuous musical display in Johannesburg with several top national stars performing. However, the biggest star of all was unable to be there as former president Nelson Mandela had to pull out when his great-granddaughter was killed in a car crash earlier that day. He did make it to the final but only briefly as a frail figure he was driven round the stadium prior to the Spain and the Netherlands clash.
President of FIFA Sepp Blatter. ©AFP
2006 -- Germany
It all started with German supermodel Claudia Schiffer strolling onto the pitch with Brazilian legend, three-time World Cup winner Pele. However, they looked on bemused as two figures dressed as fairytale characters Hansel and Gretel were assailed on the Munich pitch by polka dancers and their hornblower partners who had been part of the first half of the ceremony but clearly did not wish to leave the scene.
Brazilian soccer legend and member of the 1958, 1962 and 1970 World Cup-winning Brazilian soccer teams Pele holds the hand of German model Claudia Schiffer while standing behind the World Cup Trophy during the World Cup 2006 opening ceremony. ©Reuters/Ruben Sprich
2002 -- South Korea/Japan
South Korea and bitter historical rivals Japan co-hosted the finals with the Koreans laying on the opening ceremony and the Japanese given the final. However, not even being made joint-hosts meant all was peace and harmony between the two countries and Japanese Emperor Akihito was not present at the opening ceremony while FIFA chief Sepp Blatter was roundly booed as he tried to make his first speech as president at a World Cup finals having been elected to succeed Brazilian strongman Joao Havelange.
Performers watch a fireworks display at the opening ceremony programme "From the East...." at the World Cup Finals in Seoul. ©Reuters/Bob Strong
1994 -- United States
Diana Ross may be a soul singing legend but her skills with a football proved to be a talking point at the opening ceremony in Soldier Field Stadium, home to the NFL's Chicago Bears. Asked simply to kick the football into an open goal she fluffed her lines completely as she sent it wide of the posts. The ceremony was capped with chat show host Oprah Winfrey falling off the stage.
Singer Diana Ross performs during the opening ceremonies of World Cup '94 at Chicago's Soldier Field. ©Reuters
1978 -- Argentina
Opening ceremony was overshadowed by all-round surprise that all 24 teams turned up as there was some reluctance on the part of several players to travel to a country which had been a military dictatorship since 1976. Even more sinister was that the venue the River Plate Stadium was just a mile from the Naval Mechanics School (ESMA), a notorious prison camp where opponents of the junta were allegedly tortured.
The opening ceremony of the 11th FIFA World Cup in Argentina. Photo courtesy of planetworldcup.com