SAO PAULO (TIP): The 2014 Fifa World Cup got under way with a colourful opening ceremony before hosts Brazil kicked off against Croatia. A cast of 660 dancers paid tribute to the country’s nature, people and football with a show around a “living” ball on the Arena de Sao Paulo pitch. The final act saw a performance of official World Cup song “We Are One” by Jennifer Lopez and rapper Pitbull.
Many fans took to the streets to sing and chant their support for Brazil as excitement built in the hours before the tournament began. Performers dressed as trees, flowers and various musical instruments all performed in three acts before the central ball opened to reveal singers Claudia Leitte, Jennifer Lopez and rapper Pitbull as they sang the official World Cup song as the finale.
The 65,000-seater Arena de Sao Paulo chanted the official anthem during the opening There were also demonstrations from those unhappy with the expense of hosting the tournament. Police in Sao Paulo had to use tear gas to break up one protest, which involved about 50 people, while striking airport workers in Rio de Janeiro blocked a road outside the airport, demanding a wage increase and a World Cup bonus.
No host nation have ever lost their opening World Cup game, with the previous 20 producing 14 victories and six draws for the hosts. Hosts Brazil start as favourites, while holders Spain are aiming to win a fourth major tournament in a row after winning the European Championship two years ago.