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World Cup Watching

The real cost of completing the Panini World Cup 2018 sticker album


Posted: June 14, 2018

With the World Cup finally underway, football fans around the world will be tuning in to follow their national teams’ quest for glory. But for many fans, there’s another element to the tournament that creates just as much excitement: collecting, swapping and attempting to complete this year’s Panini World Cup sticker album.

When it comes to football stickers, everyone has their own unique theories: which players are the rarest or most common, what the best strategy is to complete the book quickest, and if it’s even possible to complete the entire book without bankrupting yourself!

According to a study by Professor Paul Harper from Cardiff University, it should take 967 packets, or 4,832 stickers to complete the book. With a packet of 5 stickers costing 80p, Professor Harper’s theory means collectors would need to spend a total of £773.60 before they had collected all 682 stickers needed to complete the book. But is this theory accurate?

musicMagpie decided to put this to the test. They bought 1,000 packets of stickers, at a cost of £800, to see if they could find all 682 stickers, and to find out who the rarest and most common players are.

Well, it turns out Professor Harper’s theory was wrong. After opening all 1,000 packets and recording each of the 5,000 stickers, they still couldn’t complete the entire book. They managed to collect 681 out of 682 stickers, with Belgium’s Radja Nainggolan being the one sticker they couldn’t find. Ironically, Radja Nainggolan wasn’t chosen for the Belgium side, so isn’t even going to the World Cup!

While they didn’t manage to complete the entire album, they did manage to find out some interesting statistics about the rarity of the remaining players, highlighting the rarest and most common, and the likelihood of you finding your favourite player in your next pack.

Apart from Belgium’s Radja Nainggolan, the rarest player was Tunisia’s Wahbi Khazri, with a 1 in 5,000 chance of appearing in a pack. At the other end of the scale, the most commonly found players were Iceland’s Björn Sigurdarson and Korea’s Nam Taehee – with a 1 in 313 chance of finding either of these players.

When looking at each of the 32 nations individually, some were far easier to complete that others. The easiest team to find every sticker for was Senegal, followed by Columbia, Serbia and Egypt. On the other hand, the most difficult team to complete was Saudi Arabia (apart from Nainggolan’s Belgium!).

The original and longer version of this piece is available here

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