England 2018 World Cup bid team appoints Oracle Octopus Paul as an official ambassador
LONDON – The octopus that achieved fame by predicting correctly the result of each of Germany's matches at this year's World Cup has switched allegiance to England.
Paul has been appointed as an ambassador to England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup.
Germany beat England 4-1 in the second round of the World Cup in the most recent installment of the nations' ongoing soccer rivalry, but the switch is a natural one for Paul.
Although he became famous by calling Germany's results and the Spain-Netherlands final from an aquarium in Oberhausen, Germany, Paul is English born. He hatched at Weymouth Sea Life Center on England's south coast in 2008.
Paul made his predictions by opening the lid of one of two clear plastic boxes, each containing a mussel and bearing a team flag.
"Paul has spent the last two years of his life in Germany, but he is definitely a proud Englishman," Weymouth Sea Life Center manager Nicola Hamilton said. "We have had a number of football approaches from around the world, but Paul was only ever going to choose his homeland."
With his eight tentacles, Paul is more adept at shaking hands than sweet-talking FIFA's 24-man executive committee that will vote in December on which nation gets to host the tournament.
But his role is simply to bring extra publicity to a country competing with the United States, Russia and joint bids by Belgium-Netherlands and Spain-Portugal.
"Paul the Octopus is undoubtedly one of the biggest names in football," former England winger John Barnes said. "Huge numbers of people will follow Paul's lead and back the bid."
Imitators sprang up all over the world, including Mani the parakeet in Singapore and Lorenzo the parrot in Hannover, Germany.
The latest is a saltwater crocodile named Dirty Harry, who predicted Spain's World Cup final win and this week called the result of Australia's general election by snatching a chicken carcass dangling beneath a caricature of Prime Minister Julia Gillard.