Inflation has come for the football sticker album. Collecting and completing the official Panini Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 album will cost fans an average of about £870.
Panini, which first produced a World Cup sticker album for the 1970 tournament in Mexico, has priced five-sticker packs for the Qatar 2022 album at 90p each. That is a 12.5% increase on the 80p cost of a five-sticker pack for the Russia 2018 album. For Euro 2016 a pack cost 50p.
There are a total of 670 Qatar 2022 stickers, which first went on sale last Thursday, to collect. However, because of duplicates, fans would – on average – need to buy 4,832 stickers to complete the album, according to calculations by Paul Harper, a mathematics professor at Cardiff University.
At 18p a sticker that works out at £870. The total average cost has increased from £770 in 2018 (when there were more stickers in the album).
Harper said if fans were “extremely lucky and never had a duplicate” in the packets they bought they would need to buy a minimum of 137 packets to complete the entire book.
That would cost £120.60. A total of 670 stickers in the entire book, with five stickers in each packet and a packet costing 90p: 670/5 = 134 packets x 90p = £120.60.
However, Harper said most people will find they collect many duplicate stickers. He worked out a formula to predict the probability of duplicates. “The first sticker you buy is absolutely guaranteed not to be a duplicate,” he said in his research first posted in 2018. “The second sticker you get has a 681/682 (99.85%) chance of being a new sticker. The third sticker you get has a 680/682 (99.7%) chance of being a new sticker, and so on.”
The probability of finding new stickers when you get close to the end becomes vanishingly small, and most collectors resort to swapping stickers with friends or in online swap clubs.
“What is interesting is that to collect just the last 19 stickers for the book, you would still be required to buy 483 packets of stickers, or half the total number of expected packets,” Harper said. “Put another way, you are only halfway through when you have just 19 stickers left to collect.”
A migrant stadium worker who helped build the Qatar 2022 stadiums would need to have worked 1,964 hours to afford the cost of completing the album, based on the 45p-an-hour wage many were paid as revealed in a Guardian investigation.
Panini reported annual sales of $1.4bn (£1.2bn) in 2018 on the back of strong demand for its Russia 2018 stickers. This was more than double the $613m revenue achieved in 2017.
Chris Clover, the managing director of Panini UK and Ireland, said: “The publishing phenomenon that is the Panini Fifa World Cup sticker collection reaches its 14th edition and anticipation across the globe is huge. The release of the collection has always kicked off the excitement for major international football tournaments, and this one will be no different. We have created a fresh new look and an innovative collection which promises to bring people of all ages together to swap and stick their way to completion.”
All 32 qualified teams for the tournament – which starts on 20 November – are included in the album, and are represented by a squad of 18 players, official strips and badges. The collection consists of a total of 670 stickers, including 50 special stickers known as “shinies”.