In its list of the “eight most baffling sports” in the world, cracked.com names shin kicking, trampoline volleyball, freestyle walking, dwile flonking (“beer rag tossing”), hornussen (“spastic placard flailing”), skibobbing (“suicide ski biking’), camel wrestling and ferret legging. At least half of these will be practised in some or other form during the Euro 2012, but the contrived star of the tournament will escape the latter of these sports.
Fred the ferret will sleep for much of Euro 2012 and not be forced down the front of a man’s pants. Fred is the latest in a sad and not very long line of “psychic” animals rolled out to make predictions on sports. Fred, like Paul the Octopus ahead of him, will be tasked with choosing the winners of the matches in Poland and Ukraine. Paul, of the octopus vulgaris family, had to choose between two plastic boxes filled with mussel meat. Fred, from Kharkiv in the Ukraine, will have to chose between two plates of beef.
If he was in Yorkshire, the home of ferret legging, Fred would have a choice of two testicles. Cracked described the sport thus: “Imagine, if you can, standing in a barn in a small village on the moors of North Yorkshire, in England. In the barn, there are a lot of dour-looking gentlemen standing around you, glowering, drinking ale and smoking pipes. Oh yeah, you’re shirtless, and your trousers are securely tied around your ankles. There’s a fellow in front of you holding two ferrets. These two small, carnivorous, weasel-like beasts with sharp claws and teeth are squirming, and they look both pissed off and really, really hungry. Then, the fellow with the ferrets gives you the nod. You pull your trousers out, and he throws the ferrets in, pulling your belt tight afterwards.
“It's referred to as ‘keepin’ ’em down’ and Ferret Leggers have to keep the two thrashing, angry ferrets down their trousers for as long as possible. When the Ferret Legger can't take any more, they whip their trousers down, freeing the Ferrets, and spend the next few weeks trying to piece together their shredded pride. And genitals.”
The Ukrainians say the reason they went for Fred is because he was “cute”, which he is when sleeping. The world record for keeping a ferret down one’s pants is five-and-a-half hours, set in 2010 by Frank Bartlett. Some would suggest that is longer than some politicians keep their ferrets in their pants.
Fred is just one of three animals who will be making predictions at Euro 2012. There is the “Soothsayer Hog” in Kiev, who is said to love beer, and “Citta the Elephant” in Krakow. They follow on in the proud tradition of the Champions League Llama, Nelly the elephant, Cosmo the ice hockey parrot and Dirty Harry, a crocodile in Australia. So, now you know.