Sunday, July 09, 2006

Shakira the star of World Cup closing ceremony

Shakira will be the star of a brief closing ceremony at Sunday's World Cup final between Italy and France in Berlin.

The Colombian pop singer will perform her smash hit 'Hips Don't lie' during the 11-minute long ceremony while veteran group Il Divo will sing the official World Cup anthem 'The Time of Our Lives'.

'We don't want a rigid, serious ceremony but instead want to show that Germany is a country where you can dance and celebrate,' said Dieter Brell, the man who developed the ceremony concept, on Thursday in Berlin.

'I think it's enough time to ignite that flame.'

The show will take place on the terrace at the Marathon Gate end of the Olympic stadium as no activity is permitted on the pitch prior to the match itself.

Around 400 actors will be on hand masquerading as a wild horde of fans to help increase the atmosphere in the stadium. The performance will be choreographed by Doug Jack, the man responsible for the closing ceremony at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin earlier this year.

Apart from Shakira, there will also be a big-name appearance at half-time when Spanish tenor Placido Domingo takes to the stage to perform 'Willkommen bei uns', a song written by his son Placido Domingo jr.

The opera star, an avid football fan, has attended every World Cup final since 1982, when Italy beat Germany 3-1 in Rome.

The stadium, which has a capacity of 72,000, has been sold out months ago. The final will be beamed around the world to a television audience of more than one billion.

However, there is no place in the ceremony for 2010 World Cup host South Africa, although images of the country will be shown on the stadium's big screen.

'From a protocol point of view, we couldn't find a way to hand over the (hosting of the) World Cup,' explained FIFA's media director Markus Siegler.

'It wouldn't be possible after the final.'

South African President, Thabo Mbeki, will be in Berlin Friday to visit a FIFA exhibition dealing with the 2010 event and where the tournament's official emblem will be presented.

African footballing greats Roger Milla and George Weah are also expected.

There will also be a concert at the Brandenburg Gate Friday evening under the name 'Football for a Better World - From Germany to South Africa', featuring among others South African-born Xavier Naidoo and African star Youssou N'Dour. FIFA say that the event will be broadcast to 120 nations around the world.

Alongside Mbeki at the concert, where the symbolic handing over of the 2010 World Cup to South Africa takes place, will be United Nations General Secretary, Kofi Annan, FIFA President, Joseph Blatter, and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.

Football's governing body FIFA has engaged Annan to promote the tournament after his term at the UN expires at the end of the year.


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