Paul knew days ago. But still, German soccer supporters clung to the hope that this time, the psychic squid was wrong. He wasn’t. Spain, as Paul predicted, triumphed over Germany with just one goal scored. And, as throngs of German soccer fans left Berlin’s Fan Mile – one of the biggest public viewing areas in the country – some blamed Paul, while most just blamed Germany’s poor performance.
“We feel like losers,” said Tamer Bükülmez, drowning his sorrows in old-fashioned German beer. “Our team can play two or three times better than we did today. We beat Argentina 4-0 and England 4-1. It must be a mental thing.”
Perhaps the hardest pill for German fans to swallow is that they had a not-so-old score to settle with the Spaniards – just two years ago, Spain claimed the Euro Cup title, also beating Germany 1-0 in the final. “It’s very sad, but Spain played well,” said Julia Schmidt, 16 – one of thousands of teenagers who turned up for the Fan Mile experience.
“We know about Paul, but we really thought this time he would be wrong.” “Yes, we hate him!” added Marcus Dittrich, 16. Paul, a mollusk at the Sea Life Aquarium in Oberhausen in Germany, has been predicting the outcome of most of Germany’s World Cup games, and has not been wrong yet. Many have hailed him an “oracle”, and during the course of the tournament, he has garnered much international fame.
Nevertheless, German fans were disappointed. Many were sure that the team would make it to the final. “It’s sad,” said one Berliner, who asked not to be named. “I really thought they would win the tournament.” Eliese Herzl-Betz, an American student at the University of Potsdam, said: “I talked to some Germans who said the team was really young and too inexperienced, so I didn’t come expecting anything.”
Most German supporters – kitted out in their country’s colours: red, black, gold and white – left the Fan Mile, near the renowned Brandenburg Gate, with glum faces. While some sang songs denouncing the Spanish team, most people left for home quickly and silently. One supporter could barely speak, and with tears in his eyes only muttered: “This is a bad feeling. I have nothing to say about the final.”
While the emptying of the Fan Mile went without major incident, there were a few small, sporadic incidents of violence as people began to make their ways home. In the underground station at Anhalter Bahnhof, for example, several youths were involved in a fistfight, delaying the train.