Football: World Cup ceremonies get Cirque de Soleil feel

Franco Dragone, known for his work with Cirque de Soleil and superstar singer Celine Dion, will direct the opening and closing ceremonies at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Dragone's company said in a statement Wednesday that the contracts had just been signed in Paris after months of negotiations.

The bar for such events has been set higher and higher in recent years, with the Beijing Olympics ceremonies of 2008 widely-acclaimed as among the most dramatic, only for the London Games last year to also to wow the world.

Dragone, 60, put together the opening ceremony for the Euro 2000 football championships in Brussels and now has 16 months to come up with a plan to match Brazil's ambitions.

Dragone was involved early with Cirque du Soleil, the Canadian troupe which revolutionised circus as a popular art in the 1980s.

He was also behind the "A New Day" show for Celine Dion which was seen by some three million people between 2003-07 in Las Vegas.