FIFA World Cup 2010: It's Time to Retire the World Cup Octopus

Mike TowersCorrespondent IJuly 7, 2010

POTCHEFSTROOM, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 04:  Head coach Vicente del Bosque of Spain listens to questions asked by the media during a press conference, ahead of their World Cup 2010 Semi-Final match against Germany, on July 4, 2010 in Potchefstroom, South Africa.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

Some notions offend my rational enlightenment outlook: the Jeremy Kyle Show, which resembles a medieval witch court complete with toothless cackling crones intent on revenge or hatred or whatever motivated them to get out of bed that day; celebrity culture and the seemingly endless parade of nonentities who are famous for one thing – being famous; the idea that an Old Etonian can run a 21st century country; the list is, as the saying goes, a tirade against everything I despise.

But for me the most offensive anti-rational anti-enlightenment notion doing the rounds at the moment is the one which says an octopus can successfully predict the outcome of football matches. 

As you may have heard, Paul the Octopus has successfully predicted the outcome of every Germany game at World Cup 2010.

He also successfully predicted the outcome of 80% of Germany’s games during Euro 2008.

Now you may think this is an amazing feat for an animal which lives at the Oberhausen Sea life Aquarium. Keep away from me if you do. This is an animal picking one of two jars, both of which have food in them. There is no rational choice other than what the vibrations in the jar mean to Paul. He’s hungry. End of story.

But no; some incredulous nutters take the notion that an octopus can predict the outcome of football matches very seriously.

There can of course be only one rational explanation: Paul’s Oberhausen handlers are in league with the German team. They build the Germans up as the tournament progresses, throw in the occasional shock such as losing to Serbia, and then put the pressure on the opposition by claiming Paul has backed them (he picked the jar with the Spanish flag on it).

Meanwhile, Germany’s players fall over themselves to let everyone know how good the Spanish are, how del Bosque’s team is the best in the world etcetc, all the time raising Spanish expectations and dampening their own before another unexpected victory tonight.

Paul the Octopus and the German team – together they make a powerful combination of tentacles and mind games.

Please can we retire him once the full extent of this charade is revealed tonight? Then Paul can do post-match interviews where he tells all about the complex food choosing strategy which fooled the Spanish before slipping back under the water in search of mussels.

Germany v Spain prediction: Germany WIN

The World Cup Bafana Bafana 2010 prediction success rate after Holland v Uruguay: 31/61