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FIFA World Cup: Buying NFT Paninis - a (failed) experiment

Buying an official Panini NFT from Qatar FIFA World Cup - a (failed) self-experiment

Difficult to escape the appeal of soccer, emotions and childhood memories. And we are particularly fond of innovative solutions with investment character. That's why we challenged ourselves: Can we buy a Panini picture as an NFT in 90 minutes? Unfortunately, our attempt failed. Read on to find out why.

Why a NFT Panini picture in the first place? What's wrong with the conventional sticker pictures?

Nothing wrong. Collecting the traditional sticker pictures is as popular as ever. Unbearable anticipation when opening the booklets. People swap them passionately, both in the playground and at retirement homes. However, there is no real profit in it, on the contrary. Filling an album costs several hundred pounds (or equivalent), according to latest calculations by the Guardian even 870 pounds in the UK. Inflation does not help. A complete collector's album of the 1970 World Cup in Mexico in perfect condition and bearing the personal signature of the Brazilian maestro Pele fetched 10,000 pounds at an auction, but when collecting traditional Panini images, it is fair to say that the focus is on the pleasure of collecting. The investment character comes second, if at all.

On the other hand, NFTs  - for explanation see below - collector cards are the latest must-have. Owners - aka managers - can create teams and play tournaments with their teams. Depending on the project, the owner might even win meetings with real players and have access to real world games. So, depending on the project, owning the NFT promises effective utility value. Plus, larger increases in value within a year are not uncommon, depending on how the real season of a player or his team goes. If a player gets injured or a team is knocked out of a tournament early, the digital card can quickly lose value. The rather high energy costs of the blockchain technology used and the addiction factor are among the downsides of the collecting pleasure.

NFTs - What?

As a refresher and according to Forbes, NFTs are digital assets that can come in the form of art, music, videos, and more. They are bought and sold online, frequently with cryptocurrency, and generally encoded with the same underlying software as many cryptos. NFTs are also generally one of a kind, or at least one of a very limited run, and have unique identifying codes. NFTs create digital scarcity. This in contrast to most digital creations, which are usually infinite in supply.


A true collector buys and trades, but never sells.


Gianni Bellini, panini picture lover

Our top 3 findings in our experiment:

  1.  Ain't no such thing as a Panini NFT. Our experiment was doomed from the outset. Although it is possible to collect Paninis digitally (e.g. via the web app "Panini Digital Sticker Album"), this does not include the NFT unique proof of ownership and authenticity. 
  2. Panini will be replaced by Topps. Panini will be the official sticker partner for the last time at this 2022 Qatar World Cup. From 2024 on, the job will be taken over by the US company Topps, which is famous for its baseball trading cards and which outbid Panini. After 40 years, this realization brings with it a fair amount of melancholy.  
  3. FIFA has teamed up with blockchain technology company Algorand (see box) and offers NFT merch. The FIFA+ Collect app does not excite us yet. And the 90 minutes are up, so we deal with the actual NFT purchase in part II of this experiment. 



The Algorand blockchain was founded by cryptographer and MIT professor Silvio Micali, who was awarded the Turing Award. It is based on a proof-of-stake (PPoS) blockchain protocol, which consumes less energy than a proof-of-work protocol. This is one of the reasons why it was chosen by FIFA, who claims to organize a carbon-neutral world cup in Qatar.

Other Holy Grails of Fandom

Aside of the official FIFA merch, collectors can use existing NFT auction platforms for trading. For a promising investment, a large fan base and thus a corresponding demand are necessary. Check the box below for an overview of interesting sports NFTs and platforms.

  • Fanzone: Fanzone collaborates with the German Football Association (DFB) to offer fans and collectors digital trading cards of the German national teams of men, women and U21. The cards can be traded and used for fantasy games.
  • Sportemon Go: In the style of Pokemon Go, Sportemon Go is to offer a marketplace for digital trading cards and a function for discovering NFTs. Users will be able to find, buy, collect and hunt cards.
  • Sorare: Sorare is a global fantasy football game with collectible NFTs.
  • Dapper Labs: Blockchain company Dapper Labs has partnered with the NBA to create NBA Topshot collectible cards
  • Opensea: Opensea is a marketplace for crypto collectibles and NFTs.

Sorare, Fanzone and similar projects bring together two very popular concepts - playing and collecting. Depending on the project, the NFT-based collector cards may even grant meetings with star players and give access to real world matches.

Patrick Neuenschwander, CEO SNGLR.NFT

Should we not rather talk about human rights and the carbon-emissions of this world cup?

We leave that - for today - to others.

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