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Soccer trading cards: Why it’s time to consider investing

Soccer trading cards

In our first article of our series on soccer trading cards, writer Christopher Mosinski discusses the phenomenon of collecting and investing in sports cards, and why trading in soccer cards is expected to grow by leaps and bounds.

If you haven’t noticed, the sports card market has exploded. Just a few years ago, you would have been able to go into your local Target or Walmart and find packs or blasters of cards on a regular basis. As of press time, Target has halted the sale of sports cards to protect the safety and security of its employees and customers. Why? The boom in trading cards has resulted in such a demand that stores have witnessed people fighting over cards, camping out the night before, and even hiding in aisles before shelves are restocked.

Target temporarily suspending the sales of cards in stores hasn’t slowed down the market, though. Far from it.

There are several factors at play, but people have been getting back into the card market at a rapid rate. According to eBay’s State of Trading Cards report, the number of purchases rose 142% over the from 2020 to 2021.

The influx in collectors has had an even more dramatic effect on the soccer card industry. This is all thanks to a growth in the game in North America and a growth globally in collecting. Soccer cards sales on eBay grew by an astronomical 1568% while trading card sales outside of the United States increased 162%.

The growth in the soccer market is helping what once was looked at as a significant market discrepancy begin to catch up. Even so, there is still plenty of room for growth and that is what continues to drive the increase in demand and value of soccer cards. You’ve likely seen the Lebron James rookie card that sold for $5.2 million. The world’s game does not even have a card in the Top-40 in sales dollars. Any list of the “Most Popular Athletes” is typically littered with soccer players. It is only a matter of time before they also begin to populate the “Most Expensive Sports Cards” lists, as well.

Soccer trading cards: Benefits

Soccer collecting has even more going for it than its large potential base. Large sporting events can drive not only interest but also excellent and engaging products. Soccer is a big part of this, and one only needs to look back to the 2018 World Cup for the latest example. Sticker books are popular in all sports, but few carry the same weight and excitement that come with collecting and completing a World Cup Sticker Book. That 2018 World Cup Sticker set helped Panini grow from $613M in 2017 sales to over $1B in 2018.

To keep up with growing collector pool, companies such as Panini and Topps have expanded their portfolio to provide collectors with more options and content. In 2018 (the year of the last World Cup), major card and sticker producers Panini and Topps had 17 different options to choose from across the different domestic leagues and the World Cup. A look at the 2021 releases shows that number has already increased to 29 with even more possible.

Soccer trading cards

While the increasing number of products may sound familiar alarms for those who remember collecting back in the 1990s, this is another example of how the soccer card industry still has room to grow. It is important to remember that the 29 different sets of cards and stickers represent all the different domestic leagues and international competitions. By comparison, in 1994 the major companies produced 27 different options for the NBA alone. If you were collecting Michael Jordan cards from that year, you would need to collect nearly 100 (over 100 if you wanted all the variants). If you were collecting Kylian Mbappé cards from 2020, you would need to collect 34 (with some possible duplication should you want all the numbered variants).

This boom is not only good for those looking to make money in the market. For those that collect their favorite players or teams for their personal interest, the increase has led to great looking product. Much like an art collector is proud to display a Picasso on their wall, so too can a Lionel Messi collector display some of the new Panini product as a conversation piece. Panini and Topps have begun making a number of their popular flagship products for soccer and this will lead to some very desirable products.

Soccer trading cards

With the prospect of major tournaments around the corner including the European Championship, World Cup, Copa America, Women’s World Cup and other competitions combined with the rising popularity of the sport, the expectation is that the popularity and value of soccer trading cards will surge.

It’s a very exciting time to get into soccer collectables.


Hot Card

Soccer trading cards

Harry Kane has established himself as a star in north London, but he might be soon graduating to an even bigger stage after the announcement of his request to leave Tottenham. Should he join a club of Manchester United’s, Paris Saint Germain’s, or Real Madrid’s notoriety, his popularity would only grow. With it, so too would his card value. Throw in the possibility of him leading England to their first international title in 55 years during this summer’s European Championship, and there is a lot of potential to be had here.

Kane’s rookie cards can be found in 2015 sets of Topps (Tottenham) and Panini Select (England). The Select version is especially desirable as it contains several nice jersey and auto cards. Look for those to increase in value along with Kane’s notoriety over the summer.

If you are looking for something more recent or in a Tottenham kit, the latest edition of Premier League Prizm has Kane in their popular Color Blast insert set. Some recent sales of this card have been over $2,000. That’s not a bad return should you be able to get one in a blaster box that costs around $60.


Articles from our series focused on soccer trading cards and stickers:

• Soccer trading cards: Why it’s time to consider investing in the hobby
• What makes soccer trading cards valuable, and why and how to get them graded
• Collecting Panini’s Euro 2020 stickers is a perfect accompaniment to watching the tournament

Videos: Unboxing of soccer cards and stickers

• 2020/21 Obsidian soccer cards
• 2020/21 Topps Museum Collection: UEFA Champions League
• 2018/19, 2019/20 & 2020/21 Topps Bundesliga stickers
• 2020/21 Panini Prizm Premier League trading cards
• Euro 2020 Panini stickers
• Panini Chronicles box break featuring Neymar autograph
• Orbis World Cup 1990: The greatest soccer sticker album of all time


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  1. Harry Cee

    May 27, 2021 at 2:03 pm

    Here is a question though, what brick and mortar stores are available for people to buy cards? It is looking like now, in order to get cards you have to buy online

    • Christopher Harris

      May 27, 2021 at 2:12 pm

      Your local sports card store will have product available. But often, eBay has more product to choose from as well as better pricing.

  2. Yespage

    May 25, 2021 at 9:13 am

    @ Blue Lou: Florida, come for the bubble, stay for the burst.

  3. Edward

    May 24, 2021 at 8:28 pm

    waiting for the NFTs

  4. Blue Lou

    May 24, 2021 at 4:43 pm

    If you collect these things out of love for the game and the players, enjoy!

    If you are collecting as an investment, I have an exciting opportunity in Florida real estate I’d love to discuss with you.

  5. Yespage

    May 24, 2021 at 2:41 pm

    “If you haven’t noticed, the sports card market has exploded.”

    That is the old fashioned sign of NOT THE TIME TO GET INTO IT! This is when you sell out, not buy in.

    • Christopher Harris

      May 27, 2021 at 3:49 pm

      The soccer trading card market is undervalued compared to baseball, basketball and American football, so there are opportunities to get cards at lower prices. With the Euros, Copa America and World Cup around the corner, it’s a bit like playing fantasy football — i.e. picking the players whose value will increase significantly.

      Plus, if trading cards are out of your budget, there are soccer stickers that are highly collectible and much more affordable.

  6. El jefe

    May 24, 2021 at 10:58 am

    Like David K. I’ve been collecting for quite a few years now. Mostly soccer cards, but also Baseball, football, and hockey. But this past year I also quit cold turkey due to the insane costs now. No way am I playing 110-180 bucks for a topps MLS hobby box when the price was only like 40 bucks a few years ago. Flippers have completely ruined sports card collecting (for now at least). I heard recently that Target stopped selling sports cards out to all the violence and flippers practically stalking the sports card vendors. Insane,

  7. David K.

    May 23, 2021 at 8:50 pm

    I enjoy collecting soccer cards but what has happened to the market in the last year is nothing short of crazy. The same hobby boxes I bought in 2019 have risen in price 10x or more since early 2020. I am out of the market now, hoping prices become reasonable once again. Case in point-the Obsidian box featured in the video goes for around $500 for 7 cards. They are cool cards, don’t get me wrong. But very few people have that kind of money to burn for 7 cards.

    • Christopher Harris

      May 24, 2021 at 7:31 am

      The new trading cards in the Hobby boxes are certainly in a different league, but we’ll also be focusing on more affordable soccer stickers too, so there’ll be plenty of options for everyone.

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