A World Cup sticker frenzy has swept through Brazil like never before. One reason is that this year, the country will host the soccer showcase, which begins on June 12. It is the first time Brazil has hosted the tournament since 1959.
Everybody is talking stickers, from kids to adults, students to doctors. Even Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is collecting. She says she is helping her 3-year-old grandson complete his set.
Fernando da Silva is a 32-year-old collector looking to complete his second album. "With the World Cup coming to Brazil there was no way I was going to pass up on this one," he said at a trading point in front of the Pacaembu Stadium in Sao Paulo. "The World Cup is here and this album will be historic. This brings back all memories from when I used to swap stickers with my friends at school."
Fans have set up trading posts outside stadiums, plazas, and bookstores. Sticker seekers can also find trading spots at supermarkets, cafes, and malls.
An Italy-based company called Panini has been in charge of the official World Cup sticker albums since 1970. According to the company, Brazil led all nations in sales during the 2010 World Cup, and this time numbers are already topping what they were four years ago. The stickers are sold in more than 100 countries, with South America being the top market.
According to FIFA, the organization that runs the World Cup, fans would need to purchase a total of 4,505 stickers before they had all of the ones needed to complete an album. That means ending up with a lot of doubles. (A complete 80-page album holds 649 stickers.) Each five-sticker pack costs 1 real in Brazil, or about 45 cents.
Internet groups and apps exist for fans looking for the hard-to-find stickers. "This time it has been really easy to find the stickers because everybody has an album," said 28-year-old pediatrician Inez Carvalho Oliveira. Panini has even created a virtual album—FIFA marketing director Thierry Weil said more than 1 million users had already signed up for it.
The stickers for this year’s album include some players who won't actually be at the World Cup. Brazilian player Robinho was included in the album but he was not picked for the World Cup team. The same thing happened with Ronaldinho in 2010. That does not seem to bother most collectors of the stickers, or the company that produces them.
Weill said the album is a way to “promote the FIFA World Cup and fuel fans’ excitement ahead of the event all over the world.”
Jan Mascarenhas, 55, says the albums bring people together. “We are swapping stickers but we are also swapping experiences,” he said. His missing player, sticker No. 628, Shin Kwang-Hoon, didn't even make South Korea's World Cup squad. "I don't know anything about the guy,” Mascarenhas said. “But I need him badly.”