UK & World News

  • 12 June 2014, 19:09

World Cup Opening Ceremony Held In Sao Paulo

The World Cup opening ceremony has taken place at the Arena de Sao Paulo in Brazil with performers including Jennifer Lopez.

She took to the stage to sing the official Fifa World Cup song, 'We Are One (Ola Ola)', alongside Pitbull and Brazilian pop star Claudia Leitte.

The ceremony began with children jumping up and down on trampolines and people dressed as trees walking around a huge globe in the centre of the pitch.

They were followed by dancers performing a variety of routines, some solo and others together.

J-Lo then appeared along with Pitbull and Ms Leitte.

Later hosts Brazil will play Croatia in the first game of the tournament, which will be watched by a crowd of more than 60,000 people, including 12 foreign heads of state.

The match, which kicks off at 9pm, comes after violent clashes between police and demonstrators who tried to block a key road leading to the stadium.

Officers fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse around 300 protesters angry about the billions of dollars spent on the event.

Demonstrators regrouped about two hours later and clashed with police again three blocks away, hurling rocks and setting fire to rubbish.

At least one person was arrested, local media reported, while a producer for the US news network CNN was among those injured, according to witnesses.

Much of Sao Paulo, Brazil's biggest city and business capital, resembled a ghost town early on Thursday after a partial holiday was declared to ensure traffic to the football stadium would be light.

But excitement began to spread by mid-morning. Fans waving Brazil flags boarded trains heading to the stadium,  while Croatian supporters drank beer on Avenida Paulista, the city's best-known thoroughfare.

Brazil's team, led by star striker, Neymar, 22, is widely fancied to beat Croatia and go on to win a record sixth World Cup title.

The stakes are high on and off the pitch. Whether the tournament is a success may also have an effect on President Dilma Rousseff's chances for re-election in October.

She has dismissed complaints about overspending and construction delays and has urged Brazilians to get behind the national team.