Italians claim perfect 'Paolo'
Spain's 1-0 defeat of the Netherlands in the World Cup final gave Paul the psychic octopus a 100% record for the tournament, and now the Italians are trying to claim "Paolo" as their own.
Paul's correct prediction of the World Cup final result gave him an incredible eight out of eight correct picks, the likelyhood of which was 1/256 if each guess was considered 50-50. Since Paul chooses his winners by selecting tasty mussels from identical food containers adorned with the competing countries' flags, either his record was a statistical sensation, or he knows something your regular pundit doesn't.
Paul's psychic abilities are a mystery but now his nationality has come into question as well, with his German trainer saying he was caught in Italian waters, not born in England as first thought. Verena Bartsch told the Sunday edition of Germany's Bild newspaper that she caught him in April in the sea off the Italian island of Elba, near Tuscany, when he was four weeks old.
Paul was believed to be two-and-a-half years old and to have come from Weymouth, England, before moving to an aquarium in western Germany. He is reported to have made predictions on Germany's Euro 2008 games, but if Bartsch's version is true, that must have been a different creature.
The Italian media has jumped on the claims as some consolation after their national team endured a disastrous World Cup title defence.
"The octopus's name is Paolo," sports newspaper Tuttosport wrote on its website.
The news is "a small satisfaction for Italy at the end of a tournament that has given the Azzurri very little joy", Il Corriere della Sera said online.
"In its own way, Italy is also the star of the 2010 World Cup," La Repubblica claimed.
The most significant outcome over the dispute would be Paul/Paolo's age. An octopus of his breed wouldn't be expected to live longer than about three years so if the England version is true, the World Cup would likely be his last tournament. If he is less than a year old as Bartsch claims, he could yet live to make predictions during Euro 2012.