FIFA 2018, Common Sense, the Silly Season and the X Factor of Paul the Octopus

Silly title? Perhaps. But hey! This is the silly season, one in which Paul the Octopus has engendered more soundbites in the international press than Tony Blair. After predicting the results of eight World Cup matches, Paul now says that the winner of the 2018 FIFA World Cup bid is…England.

Paul the Psychic Octopus belongs to that Summer Fayre of fantasy stories in the international press. When news does not exist, invent it. Politicians are discreetly on holiday, so discreetly in some cases that neither their wives nor their children know where they are, Government melts into a summer lethargy of beaches and buggies and journalists need something to write about.

The “Pike that bit three legs off an Alsation” in some village pond was Top of the Plops in the UK a few Summers ago, yet unfortunately turned out to be a pile of claptrap, the “Surrey Puma” story lasted for three decades in silly summer seasons in the rural area south of London and in 2010 there was the story of the fox that entered a house, savaged two babies and ran out again. No, really.

And since the World Cup, in the absence of wow! stories coming from France (on strike) Italy (no umph) and England (no brains) on the pitch in South Africa, came the story of Paul the Psychic Octopus, wowed in England today because he (no, seriously) predicted that England would land the World Cup bid for 2018, against Russia, Portugal/Spain, Netherlands/Belgium, Australia and the USA.

Paul the Psychic Octopus was born in an aquarium in Weymouth, western England two years ago and has already been elevated to the status of guru alongside David “We done the job” Beckham, Lewis Hamilton, Sting and Noel Gallagher.

Can the hype help?

There is no doubt that Paul the Psychic Octopus already has a certain X factor about him…it?…but let us speak seriously. After all this is FIFA 2018. Isn’t London getting the Olympics of 2012? And didn’t London get the UEFA 1996? With the next FIFA and Olympics after 2010 going to America (Brazil) it would make more sense to have a European venue for the FIFA 2018.

Netherlands/Belgium (UEFA 2000), Portugal (UEFA 2004) and Spain (1992 Olympics, FIFA 1992) have already hosted major soccer events.

The FIFA delegation headed for Paul the Psychic Octopus’ England after an official and “friendly” visit to Russia according to the local press in Moscow.

Surely however, the one who decided will be the FIFA delegation on December 2, not some slimy eight-legged monster sliding around a murky aquarium somewhere in…Germany.



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Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey