The World Cup Alphabet – P is for…

Image result for Gustavo Berocan Veiga World Cup Alphabet


Panini is a company from Modena formed in 1961 by two brothers but like many Italian family businesses ended up employing the whole family. They are a producer of many magazines, cards, books and other things. Its World Cup stickers and albums are what they are most well known for though.


Image result for Panini World CUp Socceroos

Australia’s stickers from 2006.

Starting in 1970 the stickers were of the best players of each team (normally 18 in all), the club emblem and emblem for the World Cup to be pasted in an album. The stickers were basic with the players starting at you from a training ground somewhere in their home country with their name and country listed. No stats, no information on what club they played for. Your imagination ran wild about these intriguing and mysterious figures.

It was a time when not a lot was known about teams from places like Africa and Central America among others. In the 80s was the peak time for the albums with kids in schoolyards around the world that could afford them doing to the process of ‘swap swap swap need.’

Collectors of the stickers these days are quite obsessed. There are still those doing ‘swapsies’ online to try and finish off an album they have from 40 years ago. An original complete album from Mexico 70 went for around $10,000 aus at auction. Individual stickers of classic players also go for a pretty penny online. In the digital age the pull isn’t as great but they still have a core audience as well as a cult status. The albums and stickers are still available around the World including Australia.

Image may contain: 5 people, people smiling, indoor

Some favourite old cards from my personal collection. A hell of a 5-a-side team.

An article said that it would cost around $750 to complete an album these days but you can swap through the network of obsessives on the internet. For those in to the process but lacking the funds to fully commit, Panini worked with FIFA to develop an online album (subsidised by Coke sponsorship) that people can use for free. I’m up to 82% complete for my album.


Image result for Panini cheapskates

A rogues gallery of Panini Cheapskates.


One couple in England started ‘Panini Cheapskates’ on Twitter for charity. They hand draw every sticker for the World Cup going on with differing results and are worth a follow. There is also the Brazilian who covered his VW buggy with 15,000 stickers. An old tradition that still survives the switch to digital and will hopefully continue.


Image result for Panini volkswagen

No radiator. Plenty of Panini.




Love or hate them the drama of a penalty shootout cannot be matched. Australia had theirs in 2005 of course. Thankfully that went our way in the most glorious way possible. Many have been denied by them, many thankful for them. Teams after 120 minutes get five attempts each to hit the ball in to the goal and past the keeper. If it’s a tie after the five it goes one for one until a winner is found.


They didn’t actually come in to the tournament until 1978 but it never got to the point of needing one. In 1982 there was one and it was memorable. In the volatile semi final between France and West Germany that had seen the French keeper sent to hospital the Germans prevailed to get in to the final. In 1986 France knocked out the favourites Brazil, West Germany eliminated the hosts Mexico and that magnificent Belgium side did away with Spain.


In 1990 they were pivotal again. Ireland’s memorable shootout win against Romania was one of four in the tournament. The others included Argentina sneaking past twice and West Germany outlasting England in that heartbreaker. The first of many times England would fluff their lines in a shootout. 1994 was the big one though. There two shootouts, before it got to the final which was the first to go a shootout between Italy and Brazil. We all know what happened there.


Let the nation down. Win a contract advertising pizza hut.


In 1998 England did it again, this time against Argentina. Brazil also denied Holland in a semi and France eliminated Italy in the quarter finals. In 2002 there were only two with South Korea’s memorable win over Spain with Spain having done to the same to Ireland in the previous round. In 2006 a shootout would again be decided to find the champion. David Trezeguet’s unlucky miss was the difference as Italy knocked off Spain to take the title. In 2006 England lost a third shootout, this time to Portugal. Germany won their fourth shootout without a loss eliminating Argentina.


In 2010 Paraguay put Japan out of their misery after an awful round of 16 game. Uruguay knocked out Ghana in a quarter final denying history with only two cruel ways to find a winner in South Africa. In the last World Cup there were four. Brazil snuck past Chile, Costa Rica over Greece and the Dutch did the same to Costa Rica and were then knock out on penalties by Argentina in the semis.


Instant narrative comes from these awful ways to decide a game but no alternative way of deciding the game was been put forth. There is no time fo a replay. Reducing both sides by a player every five minutes also wouldn’t work and the golden goal rule was a failure. It’s here to stay for the future. Sorry England.





Politics has always been in the tournament influencing and denying at the same time. There was 1934 with Musslini but one, perhaps, lighthearted time was when a politician tried to take over a game being played his native Kuwait.


Kuwait has never been big shakes on the world football scene despite their domination of the Gulf Cup and rivalry with Iraq, seen in the Arab world as the biggest rivalry in world sport. They did have a golden era though when they were Asian Cup champions in 1980 and then qualified for their first ever World Cup in 1982.


It wouldn’t be easy for Kuwait with the team drawn against three European sides. Those sides being England who were back for the first time since 1970, the French who were one of the favourites for the title and Czechoslovakia who were also back for the first time since 1970 and had finished runner up twice.


Kuwait managed a fantastic result in their first game when they managed to draw 1-1 with the Czechs thanks to Faisil Al-Dakhil, the second best Kuwaiti player ever. It was the second game of their campaign against France that Kuwait would be most remembered for though.


In the heat of Valladolid in Central Spain the Kuwaitis were taken apart by a French side led by the mercurial Michel Platini with the scoreline 3-0 just after the break. The French put the cue in the rack and Kuwait struck with 15 minutes to go to make it 3-1. A consolation? Could they come back? Well, they thought so. They pushed the French but left themselves open at the back which the French took advantage of with a few minutes to go or so they thought.


With the French attacking the Kuwaiti defence stopped. Was it a tactic? Well, no, they had heard a whistle and thought the referee had blown it. The French did not hear it and kept playing on with a goal scored. The Kuwaitis were incensed. They surrounded the Soviet referee Miroslav Stupar and demanded the goal be struck off but he would have none of it.


The Kuwaiti players then refused to kick off again after the goal and walked off the pitch in protest claiming that they heard the whistle from the crowd and stopped thinking it was from Stupar. If it wasn’t turning in to a farce already it did now with the brother of the Kuwaiti Emir, Fahed Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, coming down from the stands and on to the pitch to remonstrate with the ref to try and resolve the situation.


Image result for Kuwait France 1982


Al-Sabah had taken upon himself to be the Mr Sport of Kuwait. He was the founder of the Kuwaiti Olympic Committee along with being the head of the governing bodies for Basketball, Football, Handball and even Tae Kwon Do. He demanded that the ref rule the goal out and that play start again or his players wouldn’t come back on to the pitch. With the referee losing complete control of the game (the first cardinal sin of an official some would say) and a worldwide TV audience looking on with bemusement Al-Sabah refused to yield in his quest to have the goal struck off.


Finally Stupar relented and the goal was struck off which now infuriated the French who surrounded the ref but by now he’d had enough and ordered a free kick to Kuwait. Al-Sabah, smug in his small victory, hadn’t even got back to his seat back up in the stands when a perfectly legitimate goal was scored by the French to definitely make it 4-1 and win the points for France in what had been a farcical end to the game.


Even after this loss Kuwait was still a chance to make the second round but lost their final game to England 1-0 and went home. France would go on to the semifinals. Al-Sabah would go on to join the International Olympic Committee and other notable organisations before he was killed when defending the royal palace in Kuwait City during the invasion by Iraq in 1990.


Do you love the Almanac concept?
And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help keep things ticking over please consider making your own contribution.

One off financial contribution – CLICK HERE
Regular financial contribution (monthly EFT) – CLICK HERE
Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE

About Dennis Gedling

RTR FM Presenter. Glory Guerrillas Producer and Co-Host. Contributer to Football Nation Radio and Football West. Worships at the feet of the mighty Cats, Socceroos, Matildas, West Perth, Glory and Glasgow's Green and White most of the time.

Leave a Comment