Fox Apologizes for Robbie Williams’ World Cup Middle Finger Gesture

British pop singer Robbie Williams outraged fans during his performance at the FIFA World Cup ceremony in Russia on Thursday by turning to the screen and giving the fans watching at home the middle finger.

Fox officials released a statement on the issue later in the day.

"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' performance took place at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, which hosted the first of many games as Russia defeated Saudi Arabia 5-0 in pool play.

The British singer and songwriter was performing one of his hit singles "Rock DJ," and could be heard saying "I did this for free" before flipping the camera off.

Williams himself has not apologized for the incident, though a source at The Daily Mail indicated he could find himself in legal trouble due to Russia's laws. According to their legal source, he could be arrested, fined and charged with outraging public decency "if it is proved it was meant to be an insult."

"It needs to be proved that the gesture was intended to be an insult and an expert has to testify in the court that it was an insult," the source said.

Fans watching along at home didn't care much for the gesture.

"I am not saying Robbie Williams at the World Cup is the worst thing I have ever seen but it is definitely up there," one viewer wrote.

Along with the performance, Russia president Vladimir Putin started the games with a speech thanking FIFA for the opportunity to host the games.

"We are sincerely happy to host the World Cup in our country," Putin said (translated by the BBC). "Football is truly loved here."

Fox and Telemundo will exclusively stream all broadcasts of this year's games, as well as the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and the 2026 World Cup, which the trio of United States, Canada and Mexico recently won the right to host.

The Russia vs. Saudi Arabia game was the only one to take place on Thursday. Action will continue on Friday with Portugal vs. Spain, Morocco vs. Iran and Egypt vs. Uruguay.

Williams initially found fame in the United Kingdom as part of the pop group Take That fro 1990-95, but went on to massive success as a solo artist.


Six of his solo albums are on the top 10 list for best-selling albums in the history of the UK, he holds the record for most Brit Award wins at 18 and holds a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records after selling 1.6 million tickets in a single day for his 2006 world tour concert.

Photo credit: Twitter / @FIFAWorldCup