Thieves raid van containing 300,000 World Cup stickers

Stickers featuring World Cup stars such as Lionel Messi and Neymar were stolen from the van. Photo: Reuters

Brazilian football fans were given a shock this week as thieves hijacked a van carrying 300,000 World Cup stickers featuring the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney.

The raid happened in Rio de Janeiro, one of the host cities for the 32-team tournament, which kicks off on June 12th.

Manufacturer Panini has been making the World Cup edition stickers since the 1970 tournament and they have become hugely popular with fans all over the world.

Brazilian football fans exchange stickers. Credit: Associated Press

In Brazil alone the company said it expected to sell 8 million sticker albums ahead of this year's tournament.

But Panini reassured fans that they would not be unduly affected by this week's heist, saying in a statement there is "no shortage of official Panini products for sale".

This is not the first time criminals have targeted the stickers - ahead of the 2010 World Cup there were two raids on a distribution company in Sao Paolo, with a total of over 330,000

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