“A thousand euros to find Lionel Messi! Serious ?“Hugo has eyes that stick out of his ears. At first, however, it seemed like a good idea to give the Panini album from the World Cup in Qatar to his two offspring, aged five and seven: “It served as a bargaining chip if they were too reluctant. A panini bag and the negotiations end. It was a good deal, especially since they love it and play it softly. The problem is that there is no one in their school to exchange the stickers they have duplicates. Also Australian players only! And the only sticker they want is Lionel Messi’s, which apparently doesn’t exist. Panini will ruin me!”
Ever since Mexico 1970, it has become an integral part of the World Cup: the Panini sticker album to fill in to find out everything about the participating teams before the start of the competition. Every four years (every two years, including the European Championships), young and old go in search of the stamps of the most renowned players, who have become the object of digs and other haggling on the pitches – and offices. But it’s not easy to fill an album. And with every World Cup, the price to pay increases. This year we even exceed a symbolic bar: 1,000 euros to fill the album! A mathematics professor from Cardiff University carried out the calculations. If the Qatar 2022 album contains 670 vignettes at €0.20 (€1 for a pack of five), Paul Harper calculated that, counting the duplicates, it would take… 4,852 vignettes to get through. Or 1,000 euros. A 12.8% increase over Russia 2018, which was itself more expensive than Brazil 2014, a glory days when the pack of five stickers was “only” worth €0.60.
A Pelé, the grail of thumbnails
Inflation has a good back. The company denies it, but the fact of the matter is that the Panini brothers’ business, which started in the 1950s (and in its current form since the 1970s), operates through the massive production of doubles, while certain images are housed in a smaller one volumes are edited (Lionel Messi for example…). It is this, along with the madness of football, that has elevated the Panini stickers to collector’s items. So our professor Paul Harper calculated at the 2018 World Cup that if the first sticker you buy is guaranteed not to be a duplicate (phew!), the probability that the second one won’t be a duplicate is only 99.85%, namely 99.7% for the third and so on. “in summary, He told the Guardian You’re not even halfway there if you only have nineteen stickers left to collect.” Panini has pushed the vice of collecting by developing Legend stickers for specific players this year… Legendary by necessity. Well hidden in just a few packages are gold-rimmed stickers by Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappé or Kevin De Bruyne are the holy grail of ultra followers. A lucky few have decided to sell their gold Lionel Messi sticker on eBay. Asking Price: $500. But the Grail of the Grail of Panini stickers remains that of King Pelé during the 1970 edition. Signed by the player, it was auctioned in 2017 for the modest sum of…12,000 euros.
Do you want a digital Messi?
You didn’t think your album Mexico 86 would have so much market value? Neither do panini. In order not to be overtaken on the right by SoRare, Panini is taking a new course by launching its thumbnails in the form of NFT. In fact, the French start-up started the year with a major conceptual and financial hit. All glass ceilings were broken with the introduction of the first virtual soccer player cards. Manchester City’s (then still in Dortmund) Norwegian prodigy Erling Haaland’s card was ‘bought’ for… €609,000. Crazy money for a “thing” that doesn’t exist in the physical world. The era of Panini 2.0 cards. had started. Faced with this, the Italian company therefore reacted quickly World Cup in Qatar by bringing into the circuit a collection of 420 cards in the virtual world, some of which are considered “rare”. You can now get a digital certificate of authenticity by purchasing a pack of seven NFT cards for 5 euros. And if you’re lucky, you might meet Lionel Messi… But if not, there’s the possibility of exchanging your cards through a playground-like platform. A chance to recover from the 1,000 euros spent to complete the Qatar 2022 album? Hugo believes in it: “Imagine Argentina wins the cup, Messi’s virtual card will be worth hundreds of thousands of euros! It’s a shot to play“…
SoRare, virtual competition
SoRare is a company founded in 2020 by two French people. The concept is Panini 2.0.
SoRare offers virtual football player cards linked to a certificate of authenticity. In short, the purchased SoRare card, no matter how virtual, is equivalent to a work of art that belongs to you. The other innovation of SoRare, which has signed partnerships with Zinedine Zidane and Kylian Mbappé, is to offer to play with its cards. This is how you can buy your players and form a team of five. The team’s financial results will depend on results on the ground in the real world. For example, if I have the Kevin De Bruyne card and he scores three goals, his financial value will skyrocket. So we have the opportunity to dream in the virtual world of being a players’ agent or club president… Revolution or new financial boom in the world of football? The thing is, most SoRare addicts are… the soccer players themselves, many of whom are known to be pretty tight on cash. This raises an ethical question, because SoRare can also be seen as a new form of sports betting.