/ 18 May 2006

Small fish in a big (soccer) pond

If the forecasts are to be believed, Japan’s players in next month’s World Cup are small fish in a big pond.

An aquarium in Yokohama is organising a piscine World Cup, in which fish the colours of national teams fight for a ball packed with bait in a tank holding two goal posts.

It’s not the best showing for the home team.

Japan — whose blue jerseys on the football field are represented in the tank by blue palette surgeonfish — seem to have less fighting spirit than Brazil, played by yellow tang.

“The blue palette surgeon tend to stay at a corner of the fish tank while yellow tang are more active,” said Osamu Masubuchi, a spokesperson for the Hakkeijima Sea Paradise in Yokohama, south of Tokyo.

Asian champions Japan have been drawn in a tough group at the World Cup including five-time champions Brazil, Croatia and Australia.

The match is held twice a day at feeding time at the aquarium’s aqua museum. The aquarium will later feature fish bearing the colours of other teams.

“As it is the time of the season for excursions by schoolchildren, they are cheering for the fish,” Masubuchi said. — AFP