"For this, you see, is Panini HQ."

Football The Guardian's received a disappointing, if unsurprising given that men tend to be envy factories, criticism for sending Hadley Freeman, someone who's professed to knowing nothing about the World Cup to cover the World Cup. Actually it's been inspired as she writes about the tournament for the rest of us. Today's dispatch is especially good as she visits the factory which prints Panini stickers:
"In an unprepossessing industrial suburb, about a 45-minute drive out of São Paulo, is where football fans will find Willy Wonka’s factory. Like many buildings in the main city, it does not look like much from the outside – in fact, it looks disarmingly small – but this may well be a ruse to put off the less myopically devoted because inside is a veritable mecca for football (and sticker) fans. For this, you see, is Panini HQ.

"Shelves of Panini-published comic books line the reception (including a rather charming series based on the adventures of Neymar, and the Brazilian footballer’s hair does make a lot more sense in comic-book form). But let’s be honest, most people are here for the stickers, and the peeks into boxes going in and out of the warehouse, stuffed with sheathes of team photos, are nigh on torture for the dedicated collector who is still missing those final dozen elusive stickers and the World Cup has already started. And shinies! There’s a whole box of shiny stickers just by that machine and …"
I was always a bit half hearted about collecting football stickers at school. The whole process seemed entirely stacked against people like me with less friends and it was always the bullies who seemed to have the disposable income to amass the number of stickers necessary to create swaps enough to fill the books.

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