Another interesting article from The Economist which looks at collecting those football stickers at World Cup time. It started with the 1970 World Cup in Mexico and today there are 640 stickers to collect – 20 per team.
Mathematicians from the University of Geneva have worked out that you would need to buy 989 packs to fill your sticker album and it assumes that each sticker is printed in the same volumes and randomly distributed. From the 2010 World Cup the same researchers checked the distribution of stickers sold for a 660-sticker album in Switzerland and out of their sample they expected to see each sticker 9.09 times on average – 6000/660.
The Sticker Market
Rather than buying all these stickers it makes sense to create a market so that stickers can be traded. As with most markets liquidity is very important – the more attracted to the market the greater the chance someone has that sticker/stickers you are after. In order for 10 keen sticker-swappers to complete their albums they would need 1,435 packs between them and also take advantage of Panini’s (company who sell the stickers) practice of selling the final 50 missing stickers to order.
Everyone has their favourite
But is every collector rational – I know when collecting stickers for the 1970 Album I would have given 2 or 3 stickers in exchange for any Brazilian player – Pele was worth 5 stickers. Maybe today Messi, Neymar and Ronaldo are worth more than one sticker. This then creates an exchange rate for top performing players.