After years of anticipation, the opening ceremony for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil is underway, kicking off soccer's premier sporting event from Arena de Sao Paolo.
Host-nation Brazil will take on Croatia in the inaugural Group A match on Thursday afternoon.
Much like the musical performances and incredible set pieces arranged for the Olympics, Brazil will send out a star-studded lineup and present spectacles that will highlight the country’s beauty and history.
Multiplatinum artist and American Idol judge Jennifer Lopez is scheduled to perform, as will Miami rapper Pitbull, before more than 60,000 fans. "We Are One," the lead single on the World Cup album, will be performed by Lopez and Pitbull.
“The Opening Ceremony is a tribute to Brazil and its treasures: nature, people, football,” the ceremony’s artistic director Daphne Cornez told FIFA.com. “The sense of excitement here is amazing and everyone is very motivated. It doesn’t matter whether they’re feeling tired or hot sometimes or if they have to go through routines again and again: they just keep on smiling. It’s amazing.”
As many as 12 heads of state and United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon are expected to be in attendance. More than one billion people are expected to watch the World Cup on television.
One of several highlights will be a paraplegic rising from a wheelchair to take the ceremonial first kick inside a state-of-the art “Iron Man” suit.
And of course, samba dancers on top of samba dancers.
Time: Thursday, 2:15 p.m. EST
TV Channel: ESPN
Live Online: A live online stream is available Watch ESPN here.