Spain's magnificent run in last summer's men's World Cup was nearly overshadowed by a now deceased octopus named Paul, who successfully "predicted" their win over the Netherlands in the final as well as Germany's seven matches in the tournament. Now, it's the women's turn to share the spotlight with aquarium dwelling cephalopods.
Germany, which was home to Paul and will host the Women's World Cup starting on Sunday, will also be the site of the search for Paul's successor. It will be an "Octopus Idol" or "The O Factor" of sorts, as the country's Sea Life centers try to recreate the worldwide interest (and money) generating delight that was Paul's massive fame that somehow lasted until his death last October at the age of 2 1/2.
Instead of just one octopus choosing which mussel it would like to eat out of two boxes bearing the flags of nations participating in a given match and having the result called a prediction of who will win that match, there will be eight. And those eight octopuses will unknowingly battle to see which of them will become the next Paul as the German women's team attempt to win their third straight World Cup.
From the AFP:
"We are currently conducting different skills-training exercises with the octopuses in the hope that at least one of them can forecast as well as Paul," said Britta Anlauf, spokeswoman for Sea Life Germany.
In order to ensure a level playing field, each of the eight Sea Life centres in Germany, which is host to the June 26-July 17 women's competition, will have exactly the same equipment, which will be delivered this week.
On the day of every Germany match at 11:00 am (0900 GMT), the octopuses will be put through their paces in Berlin, Hanover, Koenigswinter, Konstanz, Munich, Speyer, Timmendorfer Strand and at Paul's old home in Oberhausen.
The format of the competition is being kept secret. And along with the mysterious "skills-training" exercises (which implies there is not only skill involved in this, but skills that require the octopuses to train) Anlauf mentioned, there is certainly as much intrigue to this as a story about football match predicting sea creatures can have.
Some might advise the participating octopuses to just pick Germany every time if they want to be the next to have a shrine built in their honor, but they're octopuses, so that probably wouldn't do much good.