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  1. ITV Report

Fever Pitch: Panini sticker craze sweeps Sao Paulo

Panini football stickers are in high demand on the streets of Brazil ahead of the World Cup Finals.

Impromptu gatherings are taking place on the streets of Rio and Sao Paulo, as collectors bid to complete their collections before the first ball is kicked.

Brazil has now become the world's leading Panini manufacturer of stickers, in preparation for the 2014 World Cup, with an estimated eight million books being made per week.

In Sao Paulo, the factories are creating them around the clock, with 1,000 employees churning out 750 million individual stickers a week - bringing the 'Got, got, got, need' craze to new heights for millions of Brazilians.

People exchange their Panini soccer World Cup collection stickers in front of the MASP museum. Credit: REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Sticker traders are meeting outside Sao Paulo's MASP museum of arts, as well as many markets dotted around the city, where people gather to exchange their duplicated players for the ones they want - sometimes swapping well over the asking price.

Produced by Italian company Panini since the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, children and adults swap, buy and frantically beg for stickers showcasing the worlds best players on them.

FIFA's Brazil World Cup soccer stickers and album are seen in Sao Paulo Credit: REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

With the 2014 World Cup official album needing 640 stickers to complete it, there's no shortage of people trying to hunt down a laminate covered Neymar or Algeria's Hassan Yebda in sticker form.

Mathematicians at the University of Geneva used a probability theory to calculate that collectors have to buy 899 packets to get every sticker, taking into account getting duplicates and excluding the possibility of swapping with other collectors.

The group also looked at a potential shortage and if some stickers are indeed rare - such as Ognjen Vukojevi who plays for Croatia:

A man shows off a book containing all the stickers he's willing to sell. Credit: REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Sold in 120 countries across the world, Panini stickers are already flying off shelves in shops, cafes and markets just days before the World Cup Finals.

A woman rifles through a collection of football stickers. Credit: REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

On eBay, some completed sets can go for well over £300 and according to one report in The Mirror, a Colombian teacher was accused of stealing Panini stickers from a pupil to complete their own collection.

A man shows off a sticker in his pocket. Credit: REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Speaking before the release of this tournament’s book, Panini's chief executive said:

The launch of the sticker album marks the real start of the World Cup. It is a fever.

– José Eduardo Martins
Jose Eduardo Martins, Panini's chief executive in Brazil poses with an packet of FIFA's Brazil World Cup stickers. Credit: REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

A man proudly shows his completed World Cup Panini book on YouTube that has now gathered over 163,000 views - possibly from jealous collectors.

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