“Panini created a monster”: the furor caused by the World Cup figures in Latin American countries

“Panini created a monster”: the furor caused by the World Cup figures in Latin American countries

Rodrigo Condori is 10 years old and is excited. This little Argentinian football fan is looking forward to the Qatar World Cup 2022 which starts next November.

And meanwhile, collect the figurines, prints or stickers, of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 album by Paninia tradition that takes place every four years prior to the competition.

“All my classmates are collecting figurines and we change them at school,” he tells BBC Mundo.

Rodrigo does not know exactly how many decals he has, but he assures that there are more than 260. To fill this year’s album, 670 are needed.

The problem is that in Argentina it is difficult to find them. His father, Abraham, assures that it is an almost impossible mission.

“We stood in line for three hours with a friend and bought 100 packages. Now they are no more”, he adds.

Rodrigo Condori proudly shows his album of World Cup figures.
Courtesy Abraham Condori
Rodrigo Condori seeks to complete the album before the World Cup begins.

The problem of shortages in Argentina led to a protest at the end of August in front of the offices of the official Panini distributor and to an exponential increase in prices of figurines in alternative markets.

But this phenomenon of great interest in trading cards is not exclusive to the South American country and the rise in prices was detected in several countries in Latin America and outside the region.

How is the famous album?

The Panini group, founded in 1961, based in Modena, Italy, is the manufacturer of the World Cup album.

The company is a benchmark in the figurine market -mainly for children- in Europe and Latin America and has subsidiaries and official distributors in various parts of the world.

Since 1970manufactures the album where collectors can place the 49 x 65 mm sheets of the players of the 32 teams participating in the tournament, along with stadiums, a trophy, a mascot and an official ball.

Sticker packs come with 5 shapes in each to fill the 80 album pages.

BBC Mundo requested figures from the company to give an impact dimension, but received no response.

“I never saw anything like it”

The interest in completing the World Cup album is shared by several countries in the region, regardless of whether they qualified for the FIFA championship or not.

“Since Colombia did not qualify for the World Cup, then there is not much fever,” says the Colombian journalist for BBC Mundo, Alejandro Millán.

Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Uruguay, Mexico and Costa Rica are the countries of the region that will play the World Cup in Qatar 2022.

In Uruguayfor example, there is also a passion for collecting figurines, although they maintain that there is no shortage.

In some streets and fairs, mainly in Montevideo, improvised stalls are set up for the exchange of rubbings, and in school breaks the subject captures all the attention.

There are even parents who exchange stickers at work on behalf of their children and even a Uruguayan created an application to facilitate the exchange of stickers.

Redemption post for World Cup figurines in Plaza Juan Pedro Fabini, on Avenida 18 de Julio, Montevideo.  September 6, 2022
Kindness Paola Callero
Stand for the sale and exchange of World Cup figurines in Plaza Juan Pedro Fabini, on Avenida 18 de Julio, Montevideo. September 6, 2022.

In BrazilLast week, the consumer defense foundation Procon of the populous state of Sao Paulo asked local publisher Panini for information on the distribution of albums and figurines from the World Cup, after receiving 432 complaints about the availability of the products.

Among other things, the company was consulted about the volume of material sold, its prices and distribution times, as well as the responses it gave to claims for lack of or delay in delivery.

Panini, who was given until Friday September 9 to reply, told local TV Globo that Brazil’s size posed logistical challenges and that to respond to them it had expanded online sales or agreements with retail firms.

Hands of Rodrigo completing his album of World Cup figures.
Courtesy Abraham Condori

But perhaps the most striking case is what happened in the Argentine capital.

What is lived in this world I did not see neither in Russia, Germany, nor in the United States,” Claudio Páez, owner of a kiosk in Almagro, a neighborhood in the City of Buenos Aires, tells BBC Mundo.

He says that customers line up and that packs and figurine albums sell out in hours.

“They told me everything. People are nervous, desperate, ”she exposes.

The kiosk owner believes that this great interest is due to the fact that “the Argentine team generates enthusiasm and there is hope. So, being a very soccer-loving town, seeing all that magic unfolded with Messi at 100%, it blew everything up”.

But he acknowledges thatthis is a phenomenon that is not understood because people do not have enough to eatwe are experiencing a very bad economic situation”, he adds about the crisis facing Argentina with annual inflation last July of 71%, the highest in 20 years.

This fever that was generated in the country by the figurines, added to the fact that they were not only sold in kiosks but also in supermarkets and fuel stations, caused the products to sell out quickly.

The shortage and the changes in the points of sale made the Unión de Kiosqueros de la República Argentina (UKRA) march at the end of August to the offices of the official Panini distributor in the country to protest.

“In this way the living also won, who are the ones who buy in quantity [y luego lo revenden]. A) Yes, panini believeeither a monster“, says Paez.

The suggested price of a package of figurines in Argentina is 150 pesos (approximately US$1, at the official price), but, as there is a shortage, in the alternative market it is more than double or triple.

A hand opening a package of figurines with the album in the background.
Getty Images

“Very expensive”

It may be that the fury, the scarcity and even the protests are an almost unique characteristic of Argentina. But the inflationary phenomenon on the trading cards does not discriminate the soccer team shirt.

In Colombiafor example, the envelope went from costing about 2,000 pesos (equivalent to about US$0.45 today) to US$3,500 Colombian pesos (US$0.78) at the World Cup in Russia, reports the newspaper El Espectador.

In Brazil, each package is sold for 4 reais (about US$0.78), twice as much as four years ago. That would raise the cost to complete the album to 3,865 reais (about $737), 1.5 times the average monthly income in the country, according to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, calculates Bloomberg.

Getty Images

In Mexico, the price of figurines is 18 pesos (US$0.90). This represents 50% more than the values ​​of the 2018 Russia World Cup, while in Argentina, the package of figurines experienced an inflation of close to 1000% in just four years.

“I am actually completing it and it is too expensive,” says Alejandro Millán, who lives in London.

In the UK, according to football finance expert Kieran Maguire, the Qatar 2022 official album could cost up to £883.80 (about $1,018) to complete.

The analyst, interviewed by the journalist from Newsbeat BBC’s Manish Pandey, says the price of a pack rose from 20 pence many years ago to 90 pence now.

Why did prices go up? Kieran explains that “Panini has to pay a royalty figure to FIFA”.

“And they have to negotiate with the individual football associations to get the rights to use the shirt and the crest. So it’s an expensive business for them,” he adds.

But he emphasizes that it is tradition that keeps people following the hobby.

“There is no better feeling than that final decal on that final team, especially if it is done before the tournament begins,” says the expert.

Rodrigo with his brother Santiago
Courtesy Abraham Condori
Rodrigo with his brother Santiago hope to complete the World Cup album soon.

Meanwhile, from Argentina, Abraham Condori says that when he was a child, in his native Peru, he also collected figures for the World Cup.

Now he relives the moment with Rodrigo and his other children, visiting the kiosks of Buenos Aires afternoon after afternoon in a kind of treasure hunt.

“For a little figure people can go crazy”it states.

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