World Cup nostalgia through trading cards
WASHINGTON, June 4, 2014—With the start of the World Cup in Brazil in less than a week, soccer fans around the world are scrambling to complete their Panini sticker album—and it’s not just children who get caught up in the fever of trading cards. For many, it is an important part of the World Cup experience.
If you’ve lived outside the U.S., you are probably already familiar with the Panini album and have tried to complete it yourself or know someone who has.
“These sticker cards give the global audience something tangible to collect and hold onto, no matter how their team plays,” says Trey Treutel at cardboardconnection. “The low price and worldwide availability make the Panini World Cup stickers and albums some of the most popular sports cards in the world.”The Italian company Panini, has produced the FIFA World Cup sticker album since the 1970 Mexico World Cup. Almost from the time of its inception, filling the Panini album is one of the strongest and most widespread traditions surrounding the World Cup.
The company began in 1945 as a newsstand located across the street from the cathedral of Modena, run by brothers Umberto and Benito Panini. By 1954 the brothers owned a newspaper distribution company, with a third brother, Giuseppe, as head of the organization. In 1960, Panini purchased Carnivale di Milan, which specialized in sticker albums.
Panini’s first soccer album appeared in 1961, covering the Italian championship, with A.C. Milan striker Neil Liedholm on the cover. The album had great success, selling over 15 million stickers.
Given the popularity of the 1970 Mexico World Cup album, in 1971 Panini introduced the self-adhesive sticker, growing the company’s popularity even more.
In 1988, the company was sold to the Maxwell group. Due to mismanagement and lack of interest, Panini albums were in danger of disappearing buy champix online before an Italian company took over and focused on bringing back the album’s global popularity.The album looks like a short magazine with a page for every team in the championship, as well as pages dedicated to the stadiums where games will be played and pages where fans can record final game scores and brackets. The self-adhesive stickers—similar to baseball cards— are sold separately and come in packets of five to seven.
Wildly popular, the album is sold in over 100 countries, where young and old scramble to complete it before the World Cup kicks off. The Modena-based company produces over one billion packets, which translates to six billion stickers every year. While Panini has had a few competitors over the years, it is by far the largest and most popular in the industry and continues to grow.
Since the 44 years that the albums have been published, filling it with stickers and trading with friends has become somewhat of a ritual building up to the championship every four years.
The album also has educational value, as the youngest collectors can learn about capital cities, national flags, what continent each country is located in and how a country’s name is spelled in its native language. It also provides stats for each player, including age, weight, height and club for which they currently play.
Months before the Word Cup kicks off, trading begins in schools, parks and restaurants. Children enjoy trading stickers and filling the album; for adults, it brings back memories of childhood.
Like soccer, Panini has been slow in taking hold in the U.S. However, the album has grown in popularity, with albums and stickers sold at Modell’s Sporting Goods, and online. There is also a virtual album that can be completed entirely online.
Featured Image: Calcio Streaming, Flickr Creative Commons