NewsWorldThe Panini album of the Qatar World Cup becomes...

The Panini album of the Qatar World Cup becomes a state affair in Argentina

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Panini Album: How much does it cost to fill it? 4:50 Buenos Aires (CNN Spanish) – Soccer in Argentina is a religion and a state affair. Collect the Panini figurine album too. With less than two months to go before the World Cup in Qatar, the government has added the challenge of completing the popular album to the country’s political, economic and social problems. The Secretary of Commerce finally took action this week in the controversy between the representatives of the newsstands and the company that publishes Panini, to mediate an agreement that seeks to solve the problems of supplying both the figurines and the albums to the stalls of sales that had traditionally channeled distribution. Panini promised the government and the kiosks to control the 60 official distributors so that they send the albums and figurines to all the kiosks in the country. In this way, the authorities seem to have resolved one of the priorities of the citizens, young and not so young: fill the record of the top soccer stars. A boy puts a sticker he recently bought at a kiosk next to a sign that reads “At 3 PM come to change (stickers)” on September 21, 2022 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Credit: Tomás Cuesta/Getty Images There are those who are willing to complete the album in record time and pay whatever it takes for the missing prints. However, the shortage of figurines led, first, to the appearance of signs in the sales outlets announcing that ‘There are no figurines’ and, later, to exorbitant prices being demanded in exchange for them. The popular online sales site Mercado Libre is offering the special Messi sticker for 22,000 Argentine pesos, which is just over US$150 at the official exchange rate this Friday. Normally it would be worth less than a dollar. Some local media have reported that the figurine of the Argentine star reached 120,000 Argentine pesos, about US$825. The situation began to escalate when the newsstands, which traditionally sell the album, complained that Panini “betrayed” them and it was putting them out of business to give priority to other establishments such as supermarkets, gas stations, and virtual markets. In the mediation meeting called by the government, representatives of the Italian publisher recognized that they will control more and better their 60 official distributors, Adrián Palacios, vice president of the Union of Kiosqueros of Argentina, told CNN. Those who look for albums and figurines in the kiosks will have to continue standing in long lines begging for the shortage to end. Or, go to other sales channels such as supermarkets, service stations and the black market, where prices are increasingly skyrocketing. Great goal in the first minute of the game “The first, no, no, first package, boy, first package, first package, friend, first package. I won it, Messi dad!” This was what Joaquín Stahlschmidt shouted exultantly in a video on his Twitter account. This young film student found in August, in his first package of figurines, the most precious jewel: the Lionel Messi figurine. “It was crazy. In the first package I took out Messi, I couldn’t believe it. And I uploaded it to the network to show what had happened. In two seconds it went viral, incredible,” Joaquín tells us. As he narrates it, he is photographed by his fellow students as a celebrity, or receives calls from other media outlets. His premonition was fulfilled when he opened an envelope of the World Cup album 1:14 It was like scoring a great goal in the first minute of a final. For the collector Claudio Destéfano, the Panini phenomenon has its roots in the fact that in Argentina, for several decades, figurines have been collected. The ritual – this journalist specializing in the sports business tells us – was to have your idols from the Argentine soccer first division teams portrayed in an album, fill it out in record time, find ‘the difficult one’ (a figure never easy to obtain ), and then run to the kiosk to look for the prize: the ball. Although the current paradigm of life has changed the landscape, what has not changed is the passion for this ‘religion’. Parque Rivadavia, in the geographical center of the city, has been transformed over the last few weekends into a favorite place for exchanging figurines among fans. And in the virtual universe, offers are the order of the day. Virtuality allows them to get closer and have information about where in the city or country to go to buy figurines or albums. However, the success is clearly analogous. “No way. But far. Far. Because the boys want to touch it, they want to change it, they want to see a bunch of little figures,” Destéfano tells us. Credit: Tomas Cuesta/Getty Images Until the 90th minute In August, a few weeks after it was released, some fans managed to complete the album. Massive purchases via the Internet, the exchange made by WhatsApp and a subsequent personal meeting, allowed the task to be achieved. But that’s not what happens to Joaquín: “There are many people who buy 200 packages, fill the album, that’s it. For me, the fun is going little by little.” Hours pass and, for now, the figures still do not appear. Claudio, owner of a kiosk in the Almagro neighborhood, interprets that this phenomenon is so strong in the current context that Argentina is experiencing is due to the great moment that the National Team is experiencing and because of the proximity of the World Cup. On the other hand, for Destéfano the reason is different: “When you have an interaction with your son, if we play the Play Station, you lose seven to zero. If you talk about technology issues, you don’t win. On the other hand, the father has the possibility to pass things on to you and to share stories with your child. Both Claudio in his kiosk, and Stahlschmidt in the University, or the collector in his studio, underline that the phenomenon is purely analogous. “The physical or material object has something that the virtual one will never give you,” says the young student. Credit: Tomas Cuesta/Getty Images Panini’s tide led even the United States ambassador to Argentina, Marc Stanley, motivated by Jorge Argüello -Argentine ambassador to Washington-, to buy his album with figurines and challenge his colleagues from other countries. Or that Mateo, the son of Lionel Messi will show the figure of his father via a post by his mother, Antonella. Or that the technical director of the Argentine National Team, Lionel Scaloni, in the middle of the friendly matches that the albiceleste will play in Miami and then in New York, told CNN: “My son does, I’m sure he does collect them and he must also be without those figurines. I didn’t know they had sold out really.” The World Cup is just around the corner and all Argentines dream of the great coronation in Qatar. At the same time, many fans like Stahlschmidt want to continue completing the album while the biggest event in football is played. The eyes of this fan of Independiente and the National Team light up when he says: “Screaming champion having completed the album of your idols at the same time is something that is priceless”.

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