In Argentina, as in Brazil, the World Cup arouses a fever that is almost as exciting as watching the World Cup games: completing the event’s official sticker album.
However, with unbridled inflation and the economic difficulties that Argentina faces, the pleasant activity for football fans has turned into a nightmare.
With a shortage in the supply of albums and the very stickers on the newsstands , nobody respects the suggested prices anymore and those interested in completing their albums before the ball rolls in Qatar, as of November 20, are having to pay much more than the reference values.
The owner of a newsstand in Buenos Aires, Ernesto Acuña, said in an interview this month with the New York Times that the lack of the product forces him to adopt a method to sell the stickers on the days when he manages to get them to offer to the parish: at 6 o’clock, he calculates how many people are in line for prar and sets a limit on how many packages (of five stickers each) each customer can purchase. On some days, the sale is restricted to just two per person.
Panini, the Italian company that has the rights to the World Cup album in the region, says that there is no shortage of stickers in Argentina, but that this year there was a big increase in demand compared to previous World Cups.
The Argentine press speculates that there are two reasons for this: the real chances of Argentina winning the tournament (optimism fueled by the Copa América won over Brazil, another favorite, in the middle of Maracanã, last year) and the fact that this will probably be the last Cup played by soccer star Lionel Messi.
In an image that has already become folklore in the tragic economic history Argentina, at the end of September, the Presidency’s Secretary of Commerce mediated a meeting between the representatives of the banks and Panini to balance supply and demand.
In 29 in August, more than 150 newsstand owners had staged a protest in front of the company’s local headquarters in which they alleged that Panini was giving priority to other establishments, such as supermarkets, gas stations and online stores.
The company committed to exercising greater control over its 60 official distributors, so that albums and stickers could reach newsstands in greater quantity, but marketers in the sector say that has not happened.
“With each passing week, the sticker pack costs more at the newsstand, on the streets, on the internet,” said Acuña. He showed the New York Times report conversations in WhatsApp groups, in which distributors offered newsstands packages at more than 200 pesos each (almost R$7), while the final consumer price suggested by the manufacturer was of 150 pesos (about R$ 5 – in Brazil, it is R$ 4).
Most newsstands already sell the package for at least twice the amount in Greater Buenos Aires, which turned Argentina into the Latin American country with the highest prices for the World Cup stickers. In the parallel market, Messi’s special figurine is already on sale at 120 thousand pesos (more than R$ 4 thousand).
A video that went viral on the networks showed the furious reaction of an Argentine boy, who opened a piggy bank where he had kept money for years and realized that his savings would only be enough to buy 12 packs of stickers (Argentina accumulates in 12 months an inflation of 83%).
Irritated, he throws the banknotes and coins of Argentine peso angrily at the table and refuses his father’s hug, who tries to comfort him. A good-natured Twitter user suggested that the boy should have kept dollars in his piggy bank. With the economic situation in Argentina, not even a sticker album is child’s play.