: It won't come as much of a consolation to heartbroken German fans, but at least Paul, Germany's now world famous “Octopus oracle”, has maintained his perfect record.
The “psychic” creature has correctly predicted all six of Germany's World Cup games and, amid excruciating drama broadcast live on national television on Tuesday, plumped for Spain, causing anguish up and down the country.
And the eight-legged soccer soothsayer was spot on on Wednesday, as Carlos Puyol's header shattered Germany's dreams of winning its fourth World Cup.
Two plastic boxes, one with a German flag and one with the Spanish, were lowered into Paul's tank at an aquarium in western Germany, each with a tasty morsel of food inside.
The box which Paul opens first is adjudged to be his predicted winner.
But as many World Cup stars have discovered in South Africa, the footballing gods can quickly snatch fame and favour away.
With classic fickleness, German fans turned against their beloved octopus after he forecast a Spanish win.
Bitterness at Germany's 1-0 defeat to Spain turned to anger with some sections of the 350,000-strong crowd in Berlin insulting both Paul and his mother.
Even crueller, some fans have begun posting recipes on the Internet, believing that Paul's reward for his clairvoyant powers should be a meeting with the barbecue or the paella pot.
According to Der Western daily paper, there have been “a host of comments on Facebook, Twitter ... suggesting Paul should be fried, barbecued or turned into a seafood salad or paella.”
“Others wanted to throw him into the shark tank,” the paper reported on its website.
On Friday, Paul will make his prediction for the third-place Germany match with Uruguay, a spokesman for his aquarium said.
Afterwards, Paul will be offered boxes with Spanish and Dutch flags, the two teams in Sunday's showcase final, but only if he is deemed not too tired and still hungry.
“We do not want to overburden him,” the spokesman said.
The Spanish government, meanwhile, expressed concern for the future well-being of Paul.
The Spanish are worried the Germans may take some kind of ‘revenge' for their exit on the mollusc medium with fans of Die Mannschaft bemoaning his preference for Spain ahead of their semifinal.
“I am concerned for the octopus ... I am thinking of sending him a protective team,” joked Prime Minister Jose Luiz Rodriguez Zapatero on Radio Cadena Ser.
Environment and Fisheries Minister Elena Espinosa suggested there be a moratorium on going after Paul.
“On Monday, I shall be at the European Council of Ministers and I shall be asking for a (fishing) ban on Paul the octopus so the Germans do not eat him!”
Even ahead of the match Spanish Industry Minister Miguel Sebastian called for the creature to be given an “immediate” free transfer to Spain to “ensure his protection”. — AFP