Oracle octopus gets behind England's 2018 World Cup bid

LONDON (Reuters) - Paul the oracle octopus has become an ambassador for England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup, officials said on Friday.

Paul, who spends his days in an aquarium in Germany, became a hit at the World Cup in June and July when he revealed an uncanny knack for predicting the outcome of matches.

The two-year-old creature, who was hatched at a Sea Life Center in Weymouth, England, has joined David Beckham, Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton and singer Sting among the bid ambassadors.

While Paul has officially retired from football punditry, his signing is a rare piece of good news for a bid which has suffered a stormy ride so far.

"After his success during South Africa 2010, Paul the Octopus is undoubtedly one of the biggest names in football so news of him becoming an official England 2018 Ambassador is tremendous for the Back the Bid campaign," fellow ambassador and former Liverpool and England player John Barnes said.

Paul will not be jumping tanks to support the bid, however, as he is settled in his aquarium in Germany.

During the World Cup in South Africa he became a celebrity when he correctly predicted the outcome of eight consecutive matches, including the final, by selecting food from boxes adorned with the national flags of the competing teams.

Paul's support is timely as FIFA's inspection committee is due in England next week to inspect the bid.

England's is one of five bids to host the 2018 tournament and one of eight bids to host the 2022 tournament. The hosts for both tournaments will be announced in Zurich in December.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Clare Fallon)