On Thursday May 23, the Panini World Cup Sticker Album arrived in Mexico. A worldwide tradition that started with the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, Panini’s album is one of the most popular things that surround the world’s biggest competition. The 2018 edition has 681 stickers and all 32 teams have 2 pages, with no teams getting shortchanged with the old 1 page/2 players per sticker format. Unfortunately, like the 2014 version, the players stats (including club, height, etc) will be on the sticker of the player and the pages of the album only have the name and number. Like every album, the host cities’ stadiums are in a bonus section, along with a section for historic team winners. For the Mexican version of the album, Panini includes a section of Mexican players for stickers available only in Coca-Cola bottles.
Mexico, like all teams, has 18 player slots, as well as the team pictures and official crest.
Some Mexican fans were up in arms over the price of the new album. The 50 pesos an album and worse, 4 pesos per sticker pack may mean a lot less stickers get purchased this time around. There were a lot of complaints to Panini, but those then turned to complaints to the Mexican government, as many used the rising prices of the Panini stickers as another sign of the decline of purchasing power of the Peso during the past 6 years. Many in the government weren’t too pleased that because of the time frame of the album (every 4 years), the sticker price brought a spotlight into the weakening purchasing power of the Peso compared to 2014.
Still, for many Mexicans and people all over the world, it’s a tradition that is seen with a lot of anticipation. On a personal level, the 1990 edition of the album, along with seeing the World Cup on TV in Mexico, were the combination that brought me into the world of soccer. Coming from a household with a baseball tradition and from a country that didn’t care about the sport, it was the 1-2 combination that was vital for me to enjoy this sport. 8 years later (funny enough, I missed the 1994 edition of the album, as well as the tournament, even when I spent some days during the tournament in Orlando, which I’m still kicking myself for ), the ability for my aunt to send me the 1998 edition of the album and the stickers from Mexico, along with the coverage in Univision and the tournament itself, especially the games of a Manuel Lapuente’s side that came into the tournament as a disaster and left with the best ever World Cup performance outside Mexico, were the point of no return for me. For a lot of fans, the World Cup isn’t the same without Panini.