Sunday, 9 February 2014

Fantasy Nostalgia: Panini World Cup 2014 Wish List

Just over 122 days. That's how long we've got to wait until the arrival of FIFA's 20th cavalcade of football brilliance, the World Cup Finals. And where there's a World Cup, there's always an accompanying Panini sticker album to look forward to...


It's always a big event when a new Panini World Cup collection comes along, so what would we like to see when the new album finally makes an appearance?

I've been looking back through some old Panini albums for some ideas that would brighten up this year's compendium, and I've drawn up a wish list of the things I'd like to see when it finally reaches the shops. See what you think...

1. A decent cover

If a picture paints a thousand words, it's fair to say that some of Panini's previous albums didn't have a lot to say for themselves. Quite often, the front cover would feature a picture of one or more players painted by an artist that clearly didn't understand the excitement that football provides. Sometimes, we'd get a generic montage of flags or a picture of a football that seemed a little soulless. Very rarely, we might get to see some real players on a pitch, but they were usually unidentifiable and therefore boring.

Painted players... uninspiring

Finally, however, Panini ditched that approach for its Euro 2000 album by basing the entire front cover design around the official tournament logo. At last - something modern and dynamic... and corporate. Oh it was fine the first couple of times, but the same approach has been used over and over again right up until the Euro 2012 album. It'll no doubt be used again for World Cup 2014, too.

Panini's Munchen 74 album
It needn't be that way, though. Going back to the Munchen 74 album, Panini used the official poster of the 1974 World Cup as it's main cover art. And art it most certainly was - a no-nonsense abstract painting of a player striking the ball on a stark black background. How refreshingly mature. So why not go back to having some proper art on the cover again?

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Any number of artistic approaches could be used: Impressionism, Surrealism, Art Nouveau. Here's my very basic example of how it could look, using a Pop Art approach... (see right)

It needn't be technically complex, so long as it was more visually interesting than a corporate tournament logo or a badly painted player. How hard can it be?

2. Map and flags

If there's one image that sticks in my mind from my earliest sticker collecting days, it's the opening page of Panini's Europa 80 album. It featured a three-by-three sticker image showing a map of Europe with lots of flags stuck in where the competing nations were located. Perhaps a little juvenile to some people, but to me it was a pleasing summary of who had made it to the prestige finals in Italy that year.

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Putting aside the fact that it was the devil's own job trying to line up nine stickers in a perfect grid, I think Panini should bring back the big map - but this time apply it to this year's World Cup. Here's how it might look... (see left)

Admittedly my attempt to show all of the European flags became rather challenging due to the imbalance of too many flags and not enough land mass, but in general terms I think it admirably keeps the spirit of Europa 80 alive.

Before you say it, that bottom-left sticker does look a bit bare, but hey, you can't have everything, right?

3. Excluded Nations

If you go back to Panini's main albums of the 1970's/early-80s, you'll find one of my all-time favourite features - the Excluded Nations section.

Here, you can allow yourself a brief snigger as Panini attempted to make its collection more appealing to a wider audience. You see, England singularly failed to qualify for anything of note during the 1970's and that meant few kids in England were likely to buy its sticker albums whenever a World Cup came around. The same could be said for many other countries - France, Portugal, Ireland, Switzerland, Greece...

Panini Europa 80: Excluded Nations

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The answer? To create a section showing some of those self same teams that would have been given a double-page spread if they had qualified. Miserable over the fact that Eusebio didn't make it to the 1974 World Cup? No problem! There's a sticker for him in Munchen 74! Crying over Trevor Brooking's absence from Argentina '78? Weep no more - he's in the World Cup 78 album! (etc, etc, etc...)

Taking this wonderful attempt to please all of the people all of the time, I think Panini should bring it back for 2014. Unlike the old way of doing things, there's actually no need to include a few players from each of the excluded nations. A simple page showing the badges for each country should suffice, because everyone loves a foil badge, right? Perhaps it could look like this... (see right)

4. World Cup Posters

The idea of including former World Cup posters is not a new one where Panini is concerned, but the posters themselves were often included in a wider look back at previous tournaments. They were usually packaged together with pictures of legendary players and teams, and good though that was (and sadly absent as that's been from recent World Cup albums), it did rather detract from the lovely artwork of those posters.

With that in mind, I suggest that as a tribute to this year's 20th Finals, Panini should display all 20 tournament posters on a decent-sized double page spread. Think of it as a gallery of artistic greatness, displayed for posterity and viewed upon with pride. Something like this, for instance...

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5. Venue Posters

And while we're on the subject of posters, who's seen the creations for each of Brazil's 12 stadium venues? Aren't they magnificent?!!

If you haven't guessed already, I'm a big fan of art and graphic design. When it's done properly (something I wouldn't know about personally), it lifts the spirits and nourishes the soul. So once again, let's see if Panini can show off such a wonderful array of poster art with another double page spread. Go on Panini, you know it makes sense...

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So those are my ideas... what would you like to see in Panini's World Cup 2014 sticker album? Leave us a comment and tell us your thoughts!


  1. I have never understood why the 1974 World Cup was labelled "M√ľnchen", when of course the tournament was hosted throughout West Germany. A leftover from the '72 Olympics perhaps? I've often suspected it was the work of some arrogant top brass at Bayern: it was their way of turning their noses up at less glamourous venues such as Gelsenkirchen.

    The venue posters are a great idea. There were some really good ones in '82 and '98, though I can't recall seeing versions for any other tournament. The Brasil 2014 venue posters feature some nice (if a little over-colourful) artwork, but are depressingly corporate. People may actually believe that there is a town in Brazil called "Host City Belo Horizonte".

    I'm currently working on my own World Cup poster project. I will let you guys know when it's complete!
    I'm working on my own

    1. The 'Munchen' title was puzzling for me too, James. Perhaps Munich was seen as the main geographical focus for the tournament, given that the final was held there? Your suggestion about the Olympics is more plausible, though!

      I'm sure there were venue posters for 1986, although I can't seem to find them online anywhere. Perhaps I just imagined the whole thing! Fair point about the 'Host City' prefix, but I still think the overall designs are quite clever and artistic, if a little bit corporate!

      Let us know how your project pans out, James - we're curious to see the end result! :-)

  2. 86 did have venue posters...they're in the Mexico 86 book and were mostly based around various photos of the Aztec temples with a bloke dressed as an Aztec holding or playing with a football.
    Shall post a pic on our FB / twitter accounts.