(1/10/2019) - Stalemates, wayward strikes, and flops are as much a part of cup final lore as last-gasp comebacks and acrobatic volleys. For soccer fans, a cup final can often move the emotional needle – it can thrill, or it can bore. The relationship for collectors, however, is more complicated. The outcome of one cup final may or may not directly influence the value of existing memorabilia. Many variables are always at play.
Match-worn shirts – especially if notable – are a different story. A milestone or a game winning cup goal will certainly add value. Unfortunately, a lot of match worn gear is priced high, out of reach or in some cases, overvalued. Pele’s NY Cosmos shirt worn at the start of the 1976 season brought over $8,000 at Dallas based Heritage Auctions in 2015. Sotheby’s pulled Geoff Hurst’s 1966 World Cup Final match worn shirt in 2016 after it failed to meet a minimum 300,000 GBP bid. Recent sales suggest that many new collectors now prize long-term consistency over a moment of brilliance.
For many, the UEFA Champions League is a great place to start. It has a well-established online market with signed shirts selling for a few hundred dollars on eBay. Its teams are rated among the world’s most popular according to Forbes, and American viewers can watch most of it on Fox Television.The competition, previously known as the European Cup, features the top teams from each of UEFA’s 54 national football associations. Last year’s competition concluded on May 26th with two heavyweights – Liverpool and Real Madrid.
Madrid triumphed 3-1. Shirt values for both teams remained high well after the final whistle. After all, there is no off-season. Incessant media coverage, merchandising, and a month of global summer exhibitions are just part of an ever-expanding value equation.Historical success plays a major part in popularity and no other European club has more of it than Real Madrid, winners of 33 Spanish League titles and a record, 13 Champions League trophies. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have recent FIFA World Player of the Year Luka Modric.
But Modric signed shirts are not valued as high as you might think – around $200 on eBay. In comparison, signed shirts from the previous FIFA World Player of the Year (and former Madrid star) Cristiano Ronaldo sell for around $350 and have brought up to $2,000 on eBay when framed. Of course – Modric, a stellar performer with Croatia and Madrid this past year – is not really in the same class as a Messi or a Ronaldo.
Deals can always be had, and team-signed shirts can bring substantially less than individually signed items. Real Madrid autographed shirts sold for $200 and $225 in 2016 at Christiana Auction Gallery in Wilmington, Delaware and that’s about where they start on eBay.
More about Shirts:
Depending on opposition and location, a team will wear one of several different uniforms on any given match during a season. When it comes to getting an autographed item – stay away from fake, souvenir style shirts. They’re cheaply made and have very little resale value. Brands such as Nike, Adidas, and Puma produce three basic grades of uniform that are distinguished by material and stitch.
Retailers in the U.S. sell two versions – a replica, which costs around $80 and an “authentic” or “official” shirt which can set you back $120. Most shirts are sold sans numbers and names. You can add those for another $15-20.The third uniform – in limited supply and highly prized by collectors – is dubbed “match official,” and made to be worn by the player in match play. A team may have several shirts available for each of its rostered players on any given match. Those worn and unused (aka “match unworn”) in special competitions may be donated, sold at auction, or given away. Buyers should scrutinize listings and contact the seller for additional documentation if necessary.
MEMORABILIA: SHIRTS (FROM THE BEST)
(12/15/2018) - Luka Modric and Marta both won FIFA World Player of the Year awards last year. On the men’s side of things, there were few standouts.
Modric, was, if anything consistent for club and country. Some might say that the win was based mainly on his World Cup performance with Croatia, as the other candidates struggled in the tournament.
On the women’s side of things, it is hard to think of anyone more dominant than Marta, who has now won the award six times. Marta Vieira da Silva has scored 15 times for her country in World Cup play and recently captained Brazil to the Copa America title. With a professional career that’s spanned nearly 20 years with appearances in Europe, the USA, and Brazil, Marta now 35, is a member of the Orlando Pride of the NWSL.
Recent shirt sales on eBay include the following: a Luka Modric team signed Croatia shirt – $900; a Marta signed Brazil shirt – $179; a Marta signed Olympic shirt – $150; a Modric signed Madrid shirt – $180.
(6/24/2018) - Last year at Julien’s Auctions, Alfredo Di Stefano’s 1947 South American Championship match-worn boots sold for $22,000 and Ronaldo’s team issued 2006 World Cup boots brought $12,500. Keep in mind that sale prices for a celebrity auction house like Julien’s can be very high with proceeds often donated to charity. It claims to have sold William Shatner’s kidney stone for $25,000 in 2006. Just how did they display that?
Other recent sales for boots have been more modest. Teofilo Cubillas match worn shoes from the 1978 World Cup (pictured above) sold for $675 (not including buyer's premium) at Paragon Auctions in 2014. John Terry’s signed, match-worn Umbro SX Valor boots came with a C.O.A. and sold for $842 on eBay this May. Remember Jonathan Woodgate? His Tottenham match-worn boots from the 2008 League Cup Final recently sold for $538 on eBay. David Beckham is always popular in America and his 2008 match-worn LA Galaxy boots sold for nearly $2,700 on eBay last April. Although sometimes rare, football boots (signed or worn) are not usually as valuable as shirts or balls.
For one thing, they are difficult to display, and match-worn items often show signs of use. Unlike a uniform, which sees little variation in design over the years, today’s football boots are released in a variety of styles – just about every few months. What looked cutting edge in 2010 can look dated in 2018. A burnt magenta and lime green combination doesn’t usually age very well – especially if the material is cracked or ripped.
Football boots have been manufactured since the dawn of professionalism – in England in the mid-Nineteenth Century. Originally, work boots fitted with spikes for traction, they remained largely unchanged until the 1940s.As football went global and speed of play increased, boot makers, notably Adidas and Puma went below the ankle and incorporated lighter, synthetic materials. The new technology allowed faster, more technical players like Garrincha and that other guy from Santos, to shine.
The 1960s brought us plenty of exciting European footballers too. Thank goodness for technology – it’s hard to imagine Cruyff, Best, and Eusebio playing in work boots like the one pictured above. Footwear continued to evolve and in 1968 Puma created the revolutionary King football boot – worn by Eusebio, Pele and later Maradona. Adidas followed suit with several light-weight boots before it released the Copa Mundial in 1979. Worn by German, Dutch, and Argentine greats, “Copas” became the game’s staple shoe for decades.
It wasn’t until the late 1980s that makers produced lines of shoes in different colors – and those were limited to white, red, blue, and the standard black of course. If memory serves correct, Roberto Baggio sported blue Diadora boots at World Cup 1994. By the start of the new century, brightly colored plastic became more common and black leather went out of style. It’s cyclical though and now it appears as if black leather is popular once again.
Look at any catalog and you will find that leather boots usually consist of three basic grades of material – marketing terms really – simple industrial grade leather, calfskin, and kangaroo. Having been around youth and high school soccer enough, I can tell you that a serious American player may now use 10-20 football boots in a lifetime, while a professional may go through twice that number. Collectors should look for quality, a reasonable price, and authentication. If a seller can’t justify the price with documentation, walk away or log off. eBay contains a dozen or so recent listings of boots supposedly signed by famous players – without a C.O.A. – that have sold for $15 to $50.
BOOTS: Did you know?
Adidas, the second largest sportswear brand behind Nike was founded in Herzogenaurach, Germany by Adolf “Adi” Dassler in 1924. Hence, the brand name. Adi and his brother Rudi turned out shoes in their mother’s basement and even lent a pair to Jesse Owens for his record breaking Olympic run in 1936. But a rift split the pair after WWII and Rudi launched his own brand across town, later naming it Puma. Rudidas just didn’t sound right.
Here are some other recent boot sales:
Robbie Keane – LA Galaxy – match-worn and signed Nike T90 Laser boots possibly from 2010 season – $400 – sold May 15, 2008 on eBay.
Pele – signed PELE 1970 Boots – from 2012 – $399 – sold April 5, 2018 on eBay.
U.S. Women's National Team, 2003 shirt – match-worn by Shannon Boxx and signed by the team – $242.50 – sold April 1, 2018 on eBay.
Edison Cavani signed Nike Vapor boot – $202.10 – sold May 2018 on eBay.
David Silva signed Puma boots – $195.38 – sold May 17, 2018 on eBay.
Ronaldinho signed black Nike Tiempo boots – $479.68 – sold May 13, 2018 on eBay.
(7/15/2018) - Nothing says prestige quite like silverware. And super clubs like Real Madrid and Boca Juniors devote entire buildings to awards and memorabilia. It’s worth noting that small amateur American clubs like Brooklyn Italians and Pennsylvania’s Vereinigung Erzgebirge preserve their memorabilia as well. Because of this, the prized vintage football trophy does not usually find its way to the market. But there have been sales.
Most notable is an FA Cup Trophy from 1896 that sold for $956,000 by Christie’s in 2005 and the $571,367 winning bid at Julien’s Auctions in 2016 for a replica of the 1970 Jules Rimet Trophy that was presented to Pele.The current World Cup Trophy? Well, the original, made out of solid gold, is worth millions. It's kept in safe keeping by FIFA. Every four years, a new world champion is crowned and given a replica, covered in gold plate.
(9/22/2018) - How much is a ticket worth after the final whistle? Unfortunately, unless the ticket is unused or it’s for an important matchup – they’re not usually worth much. Used tickets for England vs. Tunisia from World Cup 2018 brought $13 on eBay this past week. Used tickets for USA 1994 first round matches have sold for $5-$10 online. Earlier this month on eBay, a set of eight unused 1966 World Cup tickets brought $398, while unused tickets from Brazil vs. Czechoslovakia in the 1962 World Cup brought $265.
(8/5/2018) - Provenance is simply defined as “the place of origin or earliest known history of something.” Proof of provenance can be vital in determining the value of antiques and collectibles. It can take the form of a trademark, photo, letter, or statement from the owner. When it comes to autographed sports memorabilia, authentication is a common form of documentation.
While not particularly rare, a shirt signed by Leo Messi and a C.O.A. from a reputable authenticator will guarantee a base value. However, a match worn shirt signed by Messi at the U20 World Cup in 2005 with no authentication could command more in the long run. Eventually, though, it will need to be authenticated. Autograph authenticators compare the subject autograph with authenticated examples.
The most obvious task is to determine if the autograph is authentic. The next step is to determine its age and the most likely story behind it. An appraiser can then determine how to research and assign value. A signature can reveal the age of the signer, the writing implement used, and in some cases how many signatures a player completed in that session.Genuine signatures are usually swift, crisp, and large enough to read. Obvious fakes show a shaky hand, as if the item was copied. Authenticators look at line thickness, fading and the age of the item itself. It also helps to know some basic history.
A 2010 World Cup ball with a signature by Farenc Puskas would be an obvious fake since the Hungarian international died in 2006. Stamped or printed signatures are another headache. The ink from a stamped signature will appear to bleed and the item often exhibits smudges since stamped items are usually packaged when the ink is still wet. Other fakes are harder to spot. Some forgers are now using 3D printing to mimic the motion and weight of a human signing.If you plan on buying an autographed shirt, consider documentation.
If you want to sell the autographed Ronaldo shirt that you plan on getting from your upcoming trip to Italy, remember to snap a pic with CR7 (with the shirt). It will help the sale and grow your social media presence. Sorry, you probably knew that already.
MEMORABILIA: GAMES – SUBBUTEO
(10/15/2018) - EA Sports released FIFA 19 last September and it sold for around $60. Wait a couple of years and you can buy it for $5 on eBay. Older, rarer games (still packaged), such as those on the Nintendo and Atari game systems, will sell for around $20 to $30. If you’re disillusioned with digital soccer games, you can always turn to classics like Subbuteo.
For those new to the game, it’s quite simple. In Subbuteo, a player must flick a finger against a figure to move the ball – either to dribble, pass, or shoot. The same figure cannot be used for more than three consecutive flicks. Shots can be taken once a player crosses the shooting line. Subbuteo was invented by former R.A.F serviceman Peter Adolph, who adapted his game from “Newfooty,” a table football game from 1929. Adolph’s signature improvement was the use of lighter material.
The first Subbuteo sets, known as the Assembly Outfits, consisted of wire nets, a ball made of acetate, and figures made of cardboard, buttons, and lead washers. Subbuteo game sets have since grown to include clubs from around the world. Individual vintage Subbuteo figures will sell for around $10, while rare game sets have brought as much as $100. Depending on rarity and condition, large vintage arcade soccer games can bring hundreds or even thousands of dollars. I will write more about them later.
Did you know?
America’s vintage toy collectible market took off just after World War II. In the 1960s, manufacturers began producing reproductions. Book of Knowledge reproduced children’s mechanical baseball banks from the 19th century, often with new paint schemes, language, and figures.
(1/22/2019) - Scarves. The ancient Romans used them to keep clean, the Chinese wore them to keep warm, and in the 1980s, English football fans used them to stop the flow of blood. Seriously. Scarves became part of standard European fashion in the 19th Century and the football fan’s accessory of choice a century later. As far as collectibles go, they’re pretty common.
You can find them just about anywhere in most countries – at souvenir shops, flea markets, and even the local airport. Vintage football scarves are not worth much either. Some early examples have sold online for $50 to $100. I remember reading about a memorabilia collector in Dorset, England who amassed hundreds of team scarves from around the world. He wanted to sell but couldn’t, so he kept them. I wonder where they ended up – maybe in a $50 box lot. Collecting can be exciting too but it doesn’t have to be as risky. A savvy collector can always rely on history and data to show the way. But timing is everything.
(7/6/2018) - Anything can be collected. Search online and you’ll find a North Carolina dermatologist who collects back scratchers and a rancher from Texas who holds on to rubber bands. I’ve heard stories – one from an English teammate in New York about a Colchester fan who saved a pie from each season over a seven-year period.
When a stadium is set to be demolished, just about everything goes up for sale and you can find a lot of it on eBay – where else? Signed pieces of Boston Garden’s hardwood parquet floor sold for around $200 recently. Tufts of artificial turf from American stadiums sell for around $10. Of course, it depends on the location and type of turf. No, not all turf is the same. Steiner Sports sold freeze dried grass from the old Yankee Stadium for $100. Artificial turf from the end zone of Neyland Stadium at the University of Tennessee sold for $240 last spring.
But what about the real football? Grass from the old Wembley Stadium, preserved inside a glass paperweight sold for $16 and laminated dried grass clippings from Ibrox Stadium sold for $5. A Tottenham Hotspur key ring with dried grass from the old White Hart Lane brought $50 on eBay in May. Seat backs seem to be popular in England. One 1966 World Cup Wembley seat back with a C.O.A. sold for $133 on eBay in April and another sold for $266 in March. A Wembley seat proof from Sunderland’s 1973 FA Cup win with team signatures brought $239 in March.
MEMORABILIA: COLLECT QUALITY
(9/15/2018) - Most things of real quality do not need much advertising. Rather, it’s usually the opposite. Quality isn’t subjective. It can apply to good material used in thoughtful design and careful construction – anything in the material world and more: a car, beer, coffee, porcelain, even a $75 pair of hiking socks. It doesn’t make you a snob if you spend $20 for a small bag of coffee or $80 for a case of rare imported beer if you prefer the taste and appreciate the thought and work that went into the production.
Fine antiques and residential contents such as furniture are often valued according to that definition of quality. But sports collectibles and signed ephemera are usually valued by different parameters. Most soccer equipment (even the expensive stuff) is not made very well. Game worn shirts are a great example as they are often created to last just for the duration of one match.
For sports memorabilia collectors, quality is defined by player stature, age – when the item was worn or signed, and the condition of the signature. A faded Fritz Walter signature from 1954 could bring less than a crisp signature from later years.Custom made items – handmade boots for Cesare Maldini or a commemorative watch given to Bill Shankly are often well made and sought after.
When you collect, think of what will stand the test of time. An M.L.S. collector would be wise to collect shirts from the league’s better known international stars – Tab Ramos, Landon Donovan, and Clint Dempsey. The same goes for collectors of English Premier League memorabilia. Stay away from the lesser knowns – such as the Deeneys and Zahas – because their values will only drop over time. Go with proven winners – and for more of those at the international level you have to look at the leagues in Italy, Spain, and France.
Consider recent auction prices for shirts worn by greats from the 1980s: $400 for an Independiente shirt worn by Jorge Burruchaga to $2,250 for a Juventus shirt worn by Michel Platini. Demand often drives price.Diego Maradona is always in demand and some of his match worn shirts have sold for quite a bit. Recent sales include: a 1978 Argentinos Juniors shirt for $2,151 at Goldin Auctions; a 1982 Barcelona shirt for $900 on eBay; a 1989 Napoli shirt for $2,250 at Julien’s Auctions; and a 1994 Argentina World Cup shirt (from his last competitive international appearance) for 13,750 GBP at Bonhams.
MEMORABILIA: CARE AND STORAGE
(2/8/2019) - Soccer memorabilia deserves a special level of care. Paper, plastic, and fabric can fade quickly – over months, not years, and mold and physical damage are dangers for any item in storage. In some circumstances, insurance is necessary. But you can do your part with some extra t.l.c.
Non-toxic cleaning solutions can prevent leather and plastic from drying out. Nothing can depreciate an antique or collectible quite like a simple crack. Shirts on the rack can stretch and fray. Some owners fold and shrink-wrap clothing for preservation. Photos and paper material often turn orange and brittle. These can be kept safe away from light and in an air tight plastic container.
Museums often display items in climate and light controlled environments with regularly scheduled cleaning and maintenance as a part of the routine. You can do the same. If you’re not sure how to store, clean, or restore your item, ask an expert. They might give you some free advice.
HISTORY: CLUB ORIGINS
(11/20/2018) - West Ham United was originally founded by members of the Thames Ironworks in 1895, hence the current nickname and crest. Bayer Leverkusen was founded by aspirin makers Bayer in 1904, and P.S.V. or Philips Sport Verenigung (Philips Sport Union), was founded by the Philips corporation in Eindhoven in 1913 (the original shield featured a lightbulb). Of course, there were others over the years but let’s just stick with these for now.
Remember, the next time someone takes a dig at Red Bull, point to those guys. They seemed to do ok. I’m sure Jeonbuk Buffalo fans got upset when their club was replaced by Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC in 1994. Maybe they got over it. Jeonbuk has won the Korean K League 5 times in the last 10 years and is currently atop the table.
HISTORY: THE CLUB CREST
(1/14/2019) - A football badge isn’t just nice to look at, it can speak about the origins of a club, a region and a nation. Arsenal features a cannon in its crest because it was founded by members of London weapon manufacturer Woolwich Arsenal.
A club can also draw inspiration from its city crest. A.C. Milan uses the Milan city flag, Manchester United features the ship found on the Manchester city seal.Crests didn’t become widespread until the 1930s and many examples at that point consisted of club initials and simple designs. That changed in the 1950s and 60s as patch-making and the use of mascots – such as Manchester United’s red devil – became more common.Today, kit design is a multi-billion-dollar business that caters to shirt sponsors and international consumers alike. While history is still revered by many clubs, trends and commercial considerations often drive a shield’s color, shape, and size, at least for one particular season.
For many clubs today, it’s now about minimalism – from the “J” that recently replaced the traditional Juventus badge to the solitary Phoenix that now represents Liverpool.
Here are some notes about club badges around the world.
Olympique de Marseille
Founded in 1892 by French sports official Rene Dufaure de Montmirail, O.M. was originally known as Football Club de Marseille. Seven years later the club adopted its current name in honor of the Olympic games and the ancient Greeks who founded the city some 25 centuries earlier. Its motto, “Droit Au But” translates to “straight to the point.”
Known by many simply as Lyon, the club was originally formed in 1896 as Racing Club de Lyon under the direction of parent club Lyon Olympique Universitaire. Following internal turmoil, then-manager Felix Louot set out to create a new club. It happened in 1950 and Olympique Lyonnais was officially born. The team’s lion was taken from the city crest.
A.C. Milan was founded as Milan Foot-Ball and Cricket Club in 1899 by English expats Alfred Edwards and Herbert Kilpin. In honor of its origins, the club retained the English spelling of the city’s name (as opposed to the Italian spelling Milano). The red cross is taken from the city flag.
In 1904 some students from Lisbon got together at the back of a pharmacy to create Sport Lisboa. They even sketched out the design. A red and white shield with an eagle was a pretty good start. Later, the club was absorbed into the popular cycling club Grupo Sport Benfica. They added a bicycle wheel and changed the name. Benfica, the football club was born.
The ship on Manchester United’s badge originates from the Manchester City Council coat of arms. The devil, from the club’s nickname the Red Devils, was included on club programs and scarves in the 1960s, and incorporated into the club crest in 1971.
Founded in 1897 by a group of students in Turin, Juventus, which is Latin for “youth,” has worn a black and white striped home kit since 1903. Historically, the Juventus badge was divided in five black and white stripes. Its charging bull and crown was chosen as a symbol of the city’s identity as the cultural and political capital of the Piedmont region.
The club was formed in 1887 by Irish priest Brother Walfrid as a charitable arm of the Poor Children’s Dinner table in the east end of Glasgow. At first, the club wore a Celtic cross but then went to its current four-leaf clover design in the 1930s.
Founded in 1905 by Greek and Italian immigrants in the Boca section of Buenos Aires, Boca Juniors originally played in a black and white kit. A year later, Boca was slated to play local side Nottingham de Almagro. Legend has it that both teams wore similar shirts, so a match was played to decide who would get to keep their colors. Boca lost, and decided to adopt the colors of the flag of the first boat to sail into the port at La Boca. It was a Swedish ship, so Boca went with yellow and blue. Today, the colors are navy blue and gold.
The most successful club in Chilean football, Santiago based Colo Colo was founded in 1925 by player Luis Contreras. The badge represents the Mapuche chieftain Colo Colo, a native warrior who rebelled against the Spanish empire.
Founded in 1925, Athens based Olympiacos is the most successful club in Greek football, with 44 league titles. Its badge, which includes the head of an ancient Greek athlete crowned with olive leaves, symbolizes the city’s association with the Olympics.
Porto began play in 1893 as Foot-Ball Club do Porto by Antonio Nicolau de Almeida, a local wine merchant who became fascinated with football during his trips to England. The city of Porto contained a busy port during the age of exploration and the team’s crest pays homage to that with a globe-like football and maritime elements from the city shield.
With 33 titles, and two European cubs, Ajax is a European powerhouse. Formed in 1900 by three business partners, the Amsterdam club is widely known for its successful youth academy and the revolutionary concept of total football, popularized by star Johan Cruyff and manager Rinus Michels. Ajax takes its name and symbol from the ancient Greek hero Ajax. Each squiggly line on the crest (11 in total) represents a player on the pitch.
Formed in 1889 as an offshoot of Sheffield United Cricket Club, the club is nicknamed the blades due to Sheffield’s history of steel production. United used the city coat of arms for much of the 20th century until the current crest (with two swords) was introduced in 1977.
Formed in 1899 by a group of Swiss, English, and Catalan footballers, Barcelona has become synonymous with Catalan culture and identity. With dozens of trophies, it is among the world’s most successful clubs. The first crest included the city seal. In 1910, the current crest was adopted. It includes the cross of St. George and the colors of the Catalan flag.
The world’s most successful and profitable football club officially launched in 1902 as the Madrid Football Club. The Castllian royal family soon became patrons and the crown and the word real (royal) were both added in 1920. The crown was removed in 1931 with the dissolution of the monarchy, and then added again in 1941 after the Spanish civil war. Its symbol is largely unchanged today.
F.C. Bayern Munich
F.C. Bayern was launched in 1900 by German photographer and footballer Franz John. Its simple blue and white diamond patch was taken from the royal Bavarian flag and first worn in the 1960s.
S.C. Germania was formed in 1887 and later merged with two other local clubs to form Hamburger Sport Verein in 1919. The current crest, a black and white diamond with a blue background, is essentially a maritime flag, owing to the city’s busy commercial port.
The Philips Company created the Philips Sport Vereniging in 1913 as recreation for its workers. Its first crest consisted of a light bulb with the words “Philips Sport.” Over time, the crest changed. The colors? Well, they were chosen from the beginning because the chairman Jan Willem Hofkes appreciated the contrast between his red raspberry drink and white notepad, while he was at a meeting apparently.
HISTORY: TOP 10 GAMES
(12/6/2018) - Football has given us plenty of great moments over the years. Here is a list of the 10 greatest games that doesn’t include Maradona’s World Cup Quarterfinal win over England or Holland vs. West Germany in 1974. They’re on every list, so why not give someone else a chance?
England vs. West Germany – 2-1, 1966 World Cup Final
England’s first and only international trophy came against its old rival (not Scotland), and it did it in dramatic fashion at Wembley at the height of English cultural influence. The British Invasion, James Bond, Austin Powers. Ok, the last two don’t count but you get the idea. Was it over the line? As that old Tootsie Pop commercial implied, perhaps we’ll never know.
West Germany vs. Hungary – 2-1, 1954 World Cup Final
Although most Germans today didn’t see this one, they’d probably swear they remember it just the same. With much of the country still rebuilding from war, underdogs Germany knocked off the heavily favored Hungarians. Late in the match, Helmut Rahn scored the winner with German radio announcer Herbert Zimmermann losing his gelassenheit – “Rahn Schiesst! Tor fur Deutschland!” When the German national anthem played, many of the players (some of whom had spent time in Soviet prison camps) were too embarrassed to sing. The win became a symbol of postwar rebirth and inspired a generation of new German heroes like Beckenbauer, Mueller, and Hasselhoff.
Italy vs. Brazil – 3-2, 1982 World Cup, Second Round
The greatest team assembled versus classic catenaccio – that’s Italian for park the bus. It isn’t really but Italy, with a superb hattrick performance from Paolo Rossi, controlled large portions of the match without having much of the ball, frustrating Brazil and denying Oscar a late equalizer. Although not with the glitziest of play, Italy went on to win the tournament. A similar approach gave the country another trophy in 2006.
Liverpool vs. AC Milan – 3-3, winners on Penalties, 2005 Champions League Final
Liverpool were pinned in for much of the first half and were down 3-0 at the break. But with overwhelming fan support and some relentless pressure in the second half, the Reds clawed back, first with an opportunistic strike from Steven Gerrard, and then with goals from Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso in succession (within 6 minutes). Liverpool held on for the draw and it went to penalties, where it won after Jerzy Dudek saved a lame effort from Andriy Shevkeno. Since then, Istanbul has become the number one summer holiday destination for Scousers. Actually, I just made that up. But with so many songs about the Turkish capital, it might as well be.
Manchester United vs. Bayern Munich – 2-1, 1999 Champions League Final
United, playing without Paul Scholes and Roy Keane, seemed out of sorts in the beginning, giving the Germans too much space in midfield. Mario Basler’s freekick gave Bayern the early lead. Eventually, United settled and created several chances of its own but it could not find an equalizer. Bayern came close after the break, with Carsten Jancker’s overhead volley hitting the crossbar. United ultimately triumphed with quick goals in stoppage time from Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. It was United’s third major trophy that year and its second European Cup title, and the first to feature a cart-wheeling Danish goalkeeper.
Brazil vs. England – 1-0, 1970 World Cup
Defending champions England faced off against Brazil in their second match of Group 3 play in Guadalajara with Brazil coach Mario Zagallo describing it as “the real final”. Although it was not a goal-fest, it did have several moments of brilliance, with England goalkeeper Gordon Banks making an acrobatic stop late on. Jairzinho scored late and Brazil would go on to win in the final, while England would lose 3-2 to Germany in the second round.
Celtic vs. Inter Milan, 2-1, 1967 European Cup Final
It is perhaps the greatest Scottish team performance in a match that truly mattered – not that Rangers fans cared about it too much. Celtic had attacking prowess, while Inter was a master of catenaccio. Inter legend Sandro Mazzola scored from the spot first, while Celtic equalized through Tommy Gemmell at 63 minutes. Stevie Chalmers then put Celtic ahead at 84 minutes. Celtic coach Jock Stein was lauded by the Portuguese press and his team was given the nickname “Lisbon Lions.” A positive, attack minded Scottish team? How times change.
Manchester United vs. Benfica, 4-1, 1968 European Cup Final
No other match demonstrated the concept of two halves like this one. After a largely dull opening 45 minutes, United took a second half lead with a Bobby Charlton header. 22 minutes later Jaime Graca equalized. Eusabio should have scored in a one-on-one with United goalkeeper Alexander Stepney but his effort was saved. Extra time is when heroes are made and with the limitless energy of a Kenyan marathon runner, George Best broke past three defenders to score. Teenager Brian Kidd and Bobby Charlton added insurance goals. For United, it was the pinnacle of success and the team wouldn’t return to the final for another 31 years.
Brazil vs. Sweden – 5-2, 1958 World Cup Final
Outside of Canada and the U.S., this match made Pele a household name. Sweden opened up the scoring with a Nils Liedholm strike after just four minutes. Vava scored the equalizer five minutes later, and another one just before halftime. Pele then scored the most famous goal you’ll ever see in black and white – he flicked the ball over a hapless Swedish defender and then smashed a volley past Swedish goalkeeper Kalle Svensson. Mario Zagallo added a fourth and Pele headed in another late to secure Brazil’s first trophy and Pele’s superstar status.
Uruguay vs. Argentina – 4-2, 1930 World Cup Final
As far as firsts go, nothing was more auspicious to a future rivalry than this final. It didn’t matter that the match was played on a Wednesday. The gates were opened six hours before kickoff and the teams disagreed on who should provide the match ball. Uruguayan Pablo Dorado put the hosts ahead after 12 minutes before Argentine Carlos Peucelle equalized 8 minutes later. Argentina superstar Guillermo Stabile gave Argentina a 2-1 lead before the break. Uruguay equalized 12 minutes after half-time with a strike from Pedro Cea. Santos Iriarte and Hector Castor added goals to give Uruguay its first trophy. It would win another in 1950. In Buenos Aires, an angry mob threw stones at the Uruguayan consulate. The last living player from that final, Argentine Francisco Varallo died on August 30, 2010.
HISTORY: THE TOP GOALS FROM ITALY
(2/4/2019) - You can draw a few conclusions after watching hundreds of goal compilation videos. The selections usually fall into three categories: a solo dribbling effort; a volley (scissor or overhead kick), and a long range effort (bouncing or off the dribble). A headed goal doesn’t usually get much love unless it is truly acrobatic. Here are some other takeaways: the bicycle kick was surprisingly common in Italy as early as the 1950s; headed goals, as one might expect, were more common in England, and legends were often as good as advertised. No, Roberto Baggio was not overrated.
So without further ado here is a list of top 15 goals from Italy’s Serie A.
15. Youri Djorkaeff – Inter Milan vs. Roma – 1996. A bicycle kick from an impossible angle.
14. George Weah – A.C. Milan vs. Verona – 1996. A seemingly effortless slalom through a half dozen mannequins posing as players before he fired a rocket past a statue of a goalkeeper.
13. Ronaldinho – A.C. Milan vs. Siena – 2010. A screamer from the edge of the penalty area to the upper right corner.
12. Ronaldo (the Brazilian one) – Inter Milan vs. Lecce – 1997. Won the ball back in middle third, played a one-two, then shot from a tight angle.
11. Giuseppe Bergomi – Inter Milan vs. Torino – 1984. A 30 yard belter in open space.
10. Alessandro Mazzola – Inter Milan vs. Lazio – 1966. Bamboozled two defenders and a goalkeeper - just a day’s work for this guy.
9. Graziano Mannari – A.C. Milan vs. Juventus – 1989. A powerful, diving header from 20 yards.
8. Zinedine Zidane – Juventus vs. Reggina – 2000. Zissou cut the ball back and forth against three defenders before he unleashed a left-footed strike from a sharp angle.
7. Fabio Quagliarella – Sampdoria vs. Chievo – 2006. Caught the goalkeeper off the line with a strike from just shy of the center circle.
6. Giampiero Boniperti – Juventus vs. Atalanta – 1954. It doesn’t get more dramatic than a late bicycle kick in a confetti filled penalty area. Too bad replay wasn’t yet invented. “What the hell is replay and who the hell is John F. Kennedy?”
5. Gianluca Vialli – Sampdoria vs. Bologna – 1989. Vialli received a bouncing pass on the right side of the penalty area before he smashed home a volley.
4. Michel Platini – Juventus vs. Ascoli – 1983. Platini played a quick one-two, controlled the return with his heel, then flicked the ball over the goalkeeper. It must have hurt to be that good.
3. Roberto Baggio – Juventus vs. Lazio – 1994. The divine pony tail dribbled past six defenders to score past a helpless goalkeeper.
2. Faustino Asprilla – Parma vs. Lazio – 1994. Asprilla received the ball, popped it up, juggled a couple of times, had a cup of coffee, then turned and volleyed from 20 yards.
1. Francesco Graziani – Torino vs. Ascoli – 1976. Graziani dribbled past several defenders and the goalkeeper. After a cutback, two feints, and a toe poke, the ball was over the line. Plenty of shame was shared.
HISTORY: THE 1994 WORLD CUP
(9/6/2018) - Over the years, neutrals have seen their share of disappointments. Some stand out more than others, like final match of the 1990 and 1994 World Cups, and a dull Euro 2004, when Otto Renhagel took an unheralded Greece to the promised land – not with beautiful creativity but by parking the bus.
For many American soccer fans, the summer of 1994 had an emotional connection – it was part of their routine and it was personal. Nearly 25 years ago, the U.S. was hosting the World Cup and many had tickets (some still have the stubs). For USA fans, the highlight was a win over Colombia. You may know the rest. Escobar scored the first, Earnie Stewart scored the second (with a great piece of vision from Tab Ramos), and Balboa narrowly missed a third. Who can forget Tony Meola showing the sign of the cross? Yes, Tony, it was just that close.
It finished at 2-1. It was a flag waving, watershed moment, and barring a complete collapse against Romania in the next matchup, the team was on to the round of 16. Incidentally, shirts from that team are selling for around $50 online.
HISTORY: THE FOOTBALL SHIRT
(8/6/2018) - For the first half of the 20th Century, the football shirt – made of heavy-duty wool and cotton – was largely indistinguishable from what was worn in rugby. Polyester made inroads in the 1960s and lighter breathable mesh became standard by the decade of disco (it still is among older Jamaicans). Tighter fits became briefly fashionable in the 1980s before a return to baggy wear by the end of the decade.
Umbro dominated world-wide football market in the early 1990s – most American teenagers probably owned at least two pair of Umbro shorts even if they didn’t play the sport. Who can forget those classic laced collars rocked by Manchester United and Sheffield United?
Soon after, Adidas equipment shirts became the rage with the three shoulder stripes on everything from Arsenal and Marseille to an England-killing USA squad. By the late 1990s, shirts became even more baggy, influenced by the global popularity of hip-hop and loose-fitting casual wear.But, fashion is always cyclical and sleeker fits returned by 2006. The big teams haven’t really looked back. Collectors have though and retro shirts are all the rage. The 1993 Inter Milan shirt and the 1994 Argentina World Cup shirt are particularly popular.
HISTORY: STYLE OF PLAY
(1/17/2019) - With 11 players and a larger field, specialization is a more complicated issue. It’s hard to imagine Michael Ballack or Andrea Pirlo – versatile as they were – flying down the wing or leading the line. But many of today’s central midfielders – defensive or attacking – can probably play anywhere. Positional play has undergone several major changes in the modern era. Does anyone remember the last time a team used a 2-3-5? Blackburn did in 1897. A program featuring from that match recently sold at auction.
Total football, an attacking philosophy popularized by Ajax and the Dutch in the late Sixties was truly a global development. As athleticism improved, positions became fluid. Backs overlapped wingers. The traditional individual sweeper was split into two more mobile positions. Strikers occasionally dropped into supportive midfield roles and even defended on set pieces. In response, teams adopted more sophisticated protective strategies, with block and other types of zonal defensive setups becoming common in the 1980s.
Trends are cyclical though. And with the rise of cable television, fans from around the world turned to the end-to-end blitz of English football over the pedantic chess of the continental game. The proof is found in the English Premier League’s skyrocketing television ratings and ticket sales of the 1990s. Football owners across Europe took notice, the demand for attacking players grew, and transfer fees spiraled out of control.
Today, regional football styles are largely gone and entertainment-killing defensive tactics are frowned on by just about everyone. For the most part, the game is open and exciting. But what is lost?
“The game today is like watching a bunch of race horses,” said a 50-something coach at a recent youth tournament in New Jersey. “You don’t see the creative passes you used to see. Baggio, Bergkamp, Gullit, they’d all be yelled at for taking too much time and dribbling too much.”
Signatures of players from the past like Dennis Bergkamp, Roberto Baggio, and Ruud Gullit, are selling for around $100.
HISTORY: MUSEUMS – THE NATIONAL SOCCER HALL OF FAME
(12/18/2018) - For a sports buff, a ticket to a hall of fame or sports museum can be like trip to church with game worn uniforms from Bill Russell, Mickey Mantle, or Eusabio taking on holy relic significance. Experts still can’t explain the blue glow surrounding the match ball from the 1954 World Cup Final. Some said it was just the display case lighting.
The National Soccer Hall of Fame opened last month, as part of a $55 million renovation to Toyota Stadium, home of MLS club FC Dallas. With a quick glance of its virtual tour you can get a sense of the size and scope of its collection. But if you’re hoping for an experience similar to what you’d find at Canton, Cooperstown, or Springfield, you might be disappointed.
As one might expect, you can find plenty of items from US Soccer and MLS but unfortunately there is very little mention of the North American Soccer League and even less of the successful amateur teams of the 1950s to the 1980s. There is a sense that MLS has tried to distanced itself from the NASL, which folded in 1984.
THE EVALUATION: AUTHENTICATING MATCH WORN ITEMS
(1/5/2019) - Trust is a serious matter. But for online consumers, where reputation is often measured by ratings and references, honesty is not always so clear cut. Wrote one Internet vintage shirt dealer recently: “Most don’t really care if they’re getting an authentic item or not. It’s about fashion and if it looks good, everybody’s happy.” Of course, not everyone will be, especially if the price is high.
Paragon Auctions sold a pair of boots worn by Teofilo Cubillas at the 1978 World Cup for $675 in 2014. The listing shows an item that appeared to be genuine. The listing also included a photo of Cubillas wearing the boots at the tournament but it did not include a certificate of authenticity (C.O.A.). So how does one know for sure that the item is genuine if there is no authentication and no provenance?
A buyer should ask lots of questions. Search online to see if there are duplicates. Does the match worn item appear to be the same as examples from match footage? Is it the same size of the player? Is the wear on the item to be sold consistent with the wear that one might reasonably expect from a genuine example? Who owned the item previously? In this circumstance, one may wonder, why did Cubillas part with the boots? The more you know, the better you’ll feel about your purchase and its potential resale value.
THE EVALUATION: AUTHENTICATING SIGNATURES
(2/3/2019) - Anything can be signed. Shirts, balls, boots, programs, photos, you name it. Some signatures are worth more than others. Today’s players have two careers, one on the field and another off it. A huge chunk of the latter involves signing – mostly shirts. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have both signed thousands of shirts during their careers. So their signatures – while often valuable – are not that rare.
While much of today’s collecting focuses on signatures of more recent players, a growing number of enthusiasts are dealing with vintage signatures from players from the 1950s and earlier – Puskas and DiStefano are good examples. While these autographs can be rare, they are not necessarily that valuable since many are usually found on paper material such as letters, receipts, and photos.
Sales for these items bring hundreds not thousands. Shirt signing didn’t really take hold until the 1970s and 80s when teams started selling uniforms to the general public. So if you find an early signed shirt, there is a good chance it is also match worn.When you’re dealing with signatures you have to ask about authenticity. Is it real? There are ways to spot fakes. First off, compare the subject signature with an original example. Does it look the same? Are the lines the same thickness? Is it even? Or are there dots within a line? Does it look like someone traced it? Consider your own signature. Unless you have multiple personalities, you probably sign it the same way every time. The spacing, stroke, slant, and length of time it takes to sign are usually consistent. A player signs it the same way. Some signatures are easier to copy than others. Pele’s is the most sought after and easiest to replicate, hence it’s the most common fake.
Baseball memorabilia collectors have been dealing with fakes in America for almost a century. Fakes are becoming a bigger headache for football collectors around the world, especially as the hobby takes root with a growing middle class in Asia and Africa. Forgeries harm more than just the intended victim. A memorabilia enthusiast who pays $200 for a fake signature isn’t the only one affected. The sale can have a ripple effect. A few high sales could drive demand but a glut of fakes has the potential to do the opposite. It can also make authentication more difficult. Authenticators could conceivably charge more to stay ahead. A fake signature is worse than worthless. It will actually detract from the value of an item such as a shirt or a ball.
Our signatures change throughout our lives. Heck, if you’re signing a lot, they may even change during the course of the day. It boils down to this. Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz isn’t going to sign his shirt the same way when he’s 60. Most players won’t. Signatures usually get shakier with age.An autograph is worth more when it is signed in the prime years of a player’s career – especially when it is made after an all-important match or a milestone.
A Babe Ruth signed check from 1945 (worth around $5,000) isn’t going to bring as much as his first signed contract with the Yankees. That sold at auction for $996,000. Signatures in unique and personal circumstances can bring more too. A heart felt letter from Ruth to Lou Gehrig after his discovery of A.L.S. in 1939, if found to exist, could conceivably bring as much as the contract. Similar principles are at play with football memorabilia.Today, forgers are using increasingly sophisticated techniques such as 3D printing to mimic human signatures. And they can be very hard to spot. That’s why it is important to get a signature authenticated.
An authenticator strives for the truth. They do not give an estimation of value. Most signature authentication is a fairly standard process. If you want an item authenticated, you pay to have an authenticator to inspect the item. They take photos and research it and make the determination if it’s real. If they think it is, they assign it a number and provide the owner with a tag, certificate of authenticity, and hologram stickers to place on or near the items. They can also keep the item listed in a searchable database for other collectors. An authentication will often enhance value, and in some cases, it’s an absolute necessity.
THE VALUATION: THE APPRAISAL
(12/27/18) - There are so many vintage football shirt accounts on social media and so many prices being thrown around it’s hard for an owner to know what any item is truly worth, and even more difficult for less popular memorabilia such as boots, balls, and ephemera. An appraiser can help, but how?
Simply put, an appraiser states the value of property. There are lots of appraisers in this world and most are concerned with real estate. If you’re a soccer memorabilia collector, you’d be interested in a personal property appraiser who deals specifically with sports memorabilia.
An appraiser of personal property will inspect an item, research comparable sale prices and then make an educated valuation. That value and the valuation process itself – are often thoroughly explained in an appraisal report. The outcome and type of report depend on the purpose or intended use of the appraisal.
Owners of soccer memorabilia may need an appraisal done for several reasons. An appraisal can be completed for insurance claims and coverage, since many insurance carriers will not cover collectibles without an appraisal. In this respect, an appraiser will often consider item cost, and that’s usually what it would take to buy the item in a retail setting. Since we are often dealing with antiques, auction sale prices can sometimes be used as well. It would make sense to insure any valuable collection – whether it’s boxed or on the wall in a shop.
An appraisal can also be done to ascertain resale value – so that an owner will know what an item will most likely sell for in an appropriate marketplace, such as an auction. Soccer memorabilia owners are sometimes surprised to find that the value of their property is not what they had in mind. Other appraisal needs are for governmental functions. This can include: estate tax, charitable contribution, federal casualty loss, or gift tax.
Appraisers are also hired to provide correct valuation for the settlements of property disputes, including those related to divorce claims, eminent seizure, loss or negligence and/or fraud.In both governmental and legal situations, appraisers are interested in determining fair market value. Fair market value is defined as the price at which the property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or to sell and both having reasonable knowledge of relevant facts. It is important to note that with fair market value, the market also determines the price, not just the seller.
When it comes to cost, the seller often determines the value (by setting a price), while market value often consists of a range of what an item can be expected to bring.Since we are dealing with monetary value, it is important for an owner to seek out a relatively impartial appraiser who adheres to a generally accepted set of standards such as U.S.P.A.P. or the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice. U.S.P.A.P. is the generally recognized ethical and performance standards for the appraisal profession in the United States.
THE VALUATION: APPRAISAL RESEARCH - WHERE ARE THE MARKETPLACES?
(2/19/2019) - Some marketplaces are better suited to sell certain soccer collectibles than others. Brick and mortar retailers, such as Classic Football Shirts – sell vintage shirts directly to the consumer at set, retail prices – usually at around $75 a shirt. They often deal in volume since many customers buy several shirts at a time. Dealers on Twitter and Instagram can do the same or offer their wares at negotiated wholesale prices (at anywhere from $20 to $50). For items of a greater value, such as autographed or match used memorabilia, an auction house is usually the way to go. It is worth noting that some Internet sellers like eBay will sell just about anything.
An auction house may charge a fee to the buyer, the seller, or both. eBay will charge the highest bidder 9% of the purchase price or a maximum of $50. A physical auction house will usually charge the seller a commission (around 20 percent of the sale price), while a buyer is often required to fork over the sale price plus buyer’s premium (20 to 25 percent of the sale), and any additional taxes or fees to the auction house.An auction house will argue that fees are necessary.
For one thing, a physical auction requires greater involvement and there are more hands at work. Valuable items need to be advertised to relevant markets and buyers usually want access to a physical inspection, in some cases a week in advance of the sale. Movers, runners, clerks, and specialists need to be paid too. Think about it this way, if you’re a seller, you want to get the highest price, if you’re a serious collector you probably want to know what you’re getting.
In many countries, the auction industry is regulated by a government entity. In America, auctioneers are often licensed by the state. An auction can also be a practical solution when a large group of items need to be sold quickly, such as in situations of death, divorce, or debt.
Here are some additional auction terms.
Bidding – an offer or agreement to purchase the item at a specific price. The winning bid is also referred to as the hammer price.
Buyer's premium – a fee paid by the buyer to the auction house, usually a percentage of the winning bid. The winning bid, the buyer’s premium, and any additional taxes add up to the total purchase price. Buyer’s premium can be anywhere from 20 to 25 percent. Appraisers usually include buyer’s premium as a part of a total sale in the comparable sales in an appraisal report.
Clearance rate – the percentage of items sold in an auction.
Commission – a fee paid by a seller to the auction house, calculated as a percentage of each winning bid. A commission can be anywhere from 10 to 25 percent.
Consignee and consignor – The owner of the property until the item is purchased by a bidder.Hammer price – The announced price of a winning bid. The buyer is responsible for paying any additional fees and taxes on top of this amount.
Increment – a minimum amount by which a new bid must exceed the previous bid. An auctioneer may decrease the increment when it appears that bidding on an item may stop, so as to get a higher hammer price. Alternatively, a bidder can bid at a smaller increment, which the auctioneer can accept or reject.
Lot – either a single item being sold, or a group of items that are bid on as one unit.
Minimum bid – The smallest opening bid that will be accepted. A minimum bid can be any amount. If necessary, the auctioneer can lower the minimum bid to create interest in the item. Or the item will remain unsold.Outbid– to bid higher than another bidder.
Opening bid – the first bid placed on a particular lot. The opening bid must be at least or higher than the minimum bid.
Proxy bid or absentee bid – a bid placed by an authorized representative of a bidder who is not physically present at the auction.
THE VALUATION: INSURANCE APPRAISALS
(2/7/2019) - The first task of an appraiser (even before inspection) is to determine from the client the exact reason for the appraisal and its intended use. One use can yield a dramatically different value conclusion than another. For example, if a client wants to insure a warehouse of match-worn shirts, an appraiser would most likely use what is known as replacement cost, and include comparable values taken from the retail market.What is replacement cost and why retail? First, let’s look at why and how someone would get insurance for soccer memorabilia.
One or two shirts might not be worth a plan. But a warehouse of match worn shirts is worth a small fortune. In order to get coverage, an insurance company will often require an appraisal and a copy of the subsequent appraisal report. Good photos are necessary.
If the items are damaged or stolen, the owner will want some compensation quickly, usually in the form of an exact or nearly exact replacement. An owner may not have the time to wait for the item to come up at auction (especially if this is business inventory). So, an insurance company will use the appraisal report to supply the monetary amount that it costs to replace or buy the item from a retail store. In the event of a greater loss, an insurance company will often ask an appraiser to inspect the damaged item(s) to determine the actual loss.
So where is the retail market for vintage and match-worn shirts? The retail market can include a store (online or physical) which specializes in soccer memorabilia, and that sells often enough for a buyer to find an item quickly. Because of the nature of online sales and the international interest of soccer, the value of a shirt is essentially the same anywhere.
But that doesn’t mean it’s all smooth sailing. eBay is filled with millions of soccer related listings, with shirts (most unsigned and some fake) being the most plentiful option. There are thousands (or more) of soccer jersey dealers on social media – with some asking for vastly different prices – and new shirts are posted continuously every day.Who are the sellers? Most dealers come from Europe and Asia.
One company may create multiple accounts to sell from. Sellers draw from vintage shirts reissued by the manufacturer, surplus from past years, and fake shirts made in Asia. Sellers from Instagram and Twitter will not always list a price. Buyers are often encouraged to message the seller for a negotiated sale. If the price for a popular team seems low – $15.99 for a still packaged Adidas Liverpool shirt from 1989 – the item could be fake, damaged, or is being used as a test to gauge interest. There’s also a chance it could just be a great deal.
Manufacturers produce millions of new shirts every year. A brand-new replica shirt may sell for $80 this year, next year it could sell for half that, and in a few years, maybe it will bring $15. Used shirts sell for even less on eBay. A dealer can buy a block, repair them, and attached a tag, and wrap them in plastic. Pop-up stores selling vintage shirts have appeared in London, Paris, and now even New York.
Serious collectors should be somewhat familiar with the laws in a seller’s location. The good news is that after some preliminary research it appears that many prominent online dealers are on the level – reputation is everything. If supply is any indicator, shirts from first half of the 1990s appear to be the most popular.
THE BUSINESS: THE COST OF TRAVEL
(11/1/2018) - Autumn is the rare time when the climate of western Europe and much of America is in sync. In my mind, it’s the best time to visit. You can sightsee and catch a game or two if you’re lucky. You can find tickets on StubHub, but be prepared to pay – around $150 per ticket. If you’re on a tight budget, consider the lesser leagues. Flights are cheaper in autumn, nearly half of what they are in summer. You can usually find a round trip from New York to London for $500, to Paris and Rome for less than $1,000.
Even if the match is a dud, you can still enjoy your trip: Tapas in Madrid, Cacio e Pepe in Rome, or a pie and mash in London. Anything can be washed down with the local beverage of choice, of course. Tickets for most European leagues go on sale in June, although many clubs do not sell individual tickets directly to the public. If you’re not sure, contact the club or ticket agent.
THE BUSINESS: SHIRT SALES, CLUB VALUE, AND TV RATINGS
(1/14/2019) - Some folks say there’s just too much money in the game today. But how much is too much? Here are some numbers.
According to a report earlier this year from Bloomberg, Adidas was expected to sell more than 8 million official World Cup jerseys and 14.9 replica shirts this year. That’s a total of 22 million World Cup shirts sold. In the U.S. alone it has sold 1 million World Cup jerseys.Three Adidas outfitted club teams are among the top four in shirt sales from 2009-2014. Each year, Real Madrid sold 1.58 million shirts, Manchester United 1.49 million shirts, FC Barcelona sold 1.19 million shirts (Nike); and Bayern Munich sold 954,000 shirts. Each shirt sells for at least $80.
According to Forbes, the 20 most valuable soccer teams this year are each worth an average of $1.48 billion. Manchester United is worth $3.69 billion; Barcelona is worth more than $3.6 billion; and Real Madrid is worth more than $3.58 billion. As a comparison, the NY Yankees and Dallas Cowboys are each valued at around $4 billion.
3.2 billion people watched the 2018 World Cup. Compare that to the 125 million viewers who watched this year’s Superbowl. The fate of the game’s stateside popularity is tied to the World Cup success of the US team. During the 2014 World Cup, the USA vs. Portugal opening round matchup brought in 25 million viewers. The final – between Germany and Argentina – brought in 26 million viewers. The USA failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
The Final – between Croatia and France – brought in 16 million U.S. viewers.It is understood that FIFA made around $6 billion in revenue from the 2018 World Cup, compared to $4.8 billion in revenue made from the 2014 World Cup. According to a report in USA Today, construction and preparation for the 2018 World Cup cost more than $11.8 billion, with more than 70 percent coming from public funding. Brazil spent $15 billion to build stadiums and transportation and infrastructure for the 2014 World Cup. According to FIFA, teams at World Cup 2018 each won portions of $400 million in total prize money with $38 million reserved for the winner.The Premier League
According to the BBC, the 2015-2019 rights for the Premier League were worth over 5 billion GBP, that’s more than $7 billion. The cost for the rights for the next four years are expected to eclipse that. NBC reportedly paid the Premier League $1 billion to televise all matches from 2015-2021.Each week, nearly 500,000 viewers tune in. That’s impressive considering most matches are broadcast on weekend mornings. Last season’s Manchester United vs. Manchester City matchup was watched by 1.5 million viewers.
According to a study published at the start of the year by sports economists at the University of Tublingen in Germany, five of the top ten most popular soccer clubs among American fans are British. A report in MarketWatch claimed that Premier League Executive Chairman Richard Scudamore is fond of citing the statistic that 26,000 Americans travel to the U.K. each week to watch a game in person.
AROUND THE WORLD: CHINA
(8/6/2018) - There is some evidence that football was first played in China around 50 BCE, before the Incans, Mayans, and well before the English. The game was called Cuju and there were two main styles: “zhuqiu” and “baida.”Zhuqiu was commonly performed at imperial events with a match usually consisting of two teams of 12 to 16 players. The objective? Score without using your hands.
Baida became popular during the Song Dynasty. In it, points were added or deducted based on personal performance (runs, shots, fouls, and completed passes). In the end, the player with the highest score won.Over the centuries, more and more Chinese turned to individual sports such as gymnastics and martial arts, often at the expense of team sports such as football.
But today, Chinese football is experiencing a renaissance of sorts – spurred on by a well-travelled, rapidly growing middle class. Today, China is also the single largest market for football memorabilia, and the culprit for most of the world’s fakes. We’ll get to that in the future.
The current Chinese Football Association was founded in 1949 with its headquarters in Beijing, the capital. From 1994 to 2004, the C.F.A. established its current professional football league system with Jia A as its first division and four other leagues below it. In 2004, the league, as leagues often do, renamed itself the Chinese Super League. With an influx of cash and stars, attendance climbed to over 24,000 fans per game in 2016.
AROUND THE WORLD: EUROPE
(5/30/2018) - Most of the big European leagues start in August and end in May. But what about the one’s we don’t hear about?Ireland has its own league. It competes in the summer. It lacks the resources and player pool to compete with British football. Because of proximity, immigration, and in some cases religion, Irish football fans have generally supported one of three teams – Manchester United, Liverpool, or Celtic.The top divisions in Sweden, Finland, and Norway usually start in March and end in November but with warmer winters and UEFA’s push to consolidate control, that may soon change, as it has in Russia. Up until 2012, the Russian Premier League played in the summer but after an influx of cash and better results, it switched to a traditional calendar, with a three-month winter break.
AROUND THE WORLD: MEXICO
(9/8/2018) - In Mexico, football has always been as much about the journey as a goal itself. Possession and one-on-one ability is generally honored over effort and raw athleticism, and these values have yielded results. Mexican teams have won the CONCACAF Champions League ten years straight and have been champions of the region 16 times out of the last 20 years. Mexican teams have also competed in and won the Copa Libertadores.
An MLS team has won the CONCACAF Champions league just twice in 20 years – in 1998 and 2000. It’s an abysmal record. Mexico finished as runners up twice at Copa America, won the Olympics and Confederations Cup and qualified for 16 World Cup tournaments, reaching the Quarterfinals twice.
So, what is it about Mexican football that makes it such a powerhouse? For one thing, soccer is the national sport (over baseball and bullfighting) and its domestic league is hugely popular. According to CONCACAF, the league – with an average attendance of 25,557 during the 2014–15 season – draws the largest crowds on average of any football league in the Americas and the fourth largest crowds of any professional sports league in North America, behind only the National Football League and Major League Baseball, and the Canadian Football League. It is also the fourth most attended football league in the world behind Germany’s Bundesliga, England’s Premier League and Spain’s La Liga.
Its setup is unique. Each season, the league holds two tournaments: the Apertura, which starts in the summer, and the Clausura, which starts in the winter. The league comprises 18 clubs, with one being relegated every year based upon its league performances over the previous three years. The first 8 teams in the table at the end of the regular phase of the tournament qualify to a playoff. Up until July 2011, the league was divided into 3 groups. The group formatting was removed in favor of a single-table format. Club America and Chivas de Guadalajara have each won the title 12 times. Santos Laguna are the current champions.
AROUND THE WORLD: NORTH AMERICAN COLLECTIBLES
(7/12/2018) - What about collectibles from North America? Shirts from the North American Soccer League are always popular, and autographed, match-worn items can bring over $1,000 on eBay. However, autographed shirts from M.L.S. and Liga MX (the Mexican first division) are a different prospect.
An American soccer retailer will usually carry shirts from the local M.L.S. team but not from other teams. Many will carry a few shirts from Liga MX – specifically Club America and Chivas de Guadalajara – the current champions. While Liga MX is the most watched soccer league in the U.S., demand for its autographed memorabilia, compared to that of European leagues is low.
A Ramon Morales signed Chivas shirt brought $179 on eBay last month. Several team-signed shirts brought $160 and some from a few years back brought as little as $50.Comparable M.L.S. shirts do not appear to be any more valuable – at least after a quick search on eBay.
Toronto FC won the league in 2017 and Seattle won it the year before. A recent eBay search revealed no team signed Toronto gear. A Sebastian Giovinco Toronto FC shirt brought $225 in May. A recent search for Seattle gear revealed just one team signed Sounders shirt that brought $27 in June.AROUND THE WORLD: MLS FANSThe Northeast megalopolis, a 500-mile sliver of land from Virginia to Massachusetts is home to over 50 million people and five M.L.S. clubs. For away fans in the region, travel is uncomplicated, with trips on Route 95 or by rail. There are local rivalries, but it isn’t all passion and sold out stadiums.
Attendance at M.L.S. matches this year has averaged a little over 21,000 fans per game, slightly down from the year before. According to World Soccer Talk’s Stefan Szymanski, the average number of television viewers for an M.L.S. match in 2017 was a fraction of the number who watched the E.P.L., Champions League, or the Mexican League, the most watched soccer league in the U.S.
THE BUSINESS: THE COST OF A LEAGUE TICKET
(10/25/2018) - How much would you pay to be close to the action? $20 can get you through the turnstiles at most M.L.S. games. $40 will do it for most La Liga, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 matches. $50 to $75 will get you into most grounds in Italy and in the English Premier League – that is if tickets are still available, of course.
THE BUSINESS: THE COST OF A WORLD CUP TICKET
(5/24/2018) - How about a first round matchup at the World Cup? If you’re lucky enough to buy from a group which has received allocated tickets – it could set you back $100 or more per ticket. Tickets for the 2018 tournament sold for up to $2,000 on the secondary market for Round of 16 and Quarterfinal matchups.
THE BUSINESS: DEMAND AND FAKES
(7/1/2018) - Nike’s World Cup shirts for Nigeria went on sale in June and were sold out in minutes. Nike fielded 3 million pre-orders for the shirts but couldn’t meet demand. Fans lined up outside Niketown in London hours in advance to purchase the shirt for the Super Eagles and many left empty-handed. Fakes have flooded the market and soccer memorabilia websites quickly noted how to spot them. Keep in mind that a replica shirt will sell for around $80. If it is selling for $30, it is probably used or not authentic. Officially licensed gear can be identified on a tag at the bottom of the shirt and on the price tag. Today, just about anything can be copied though. So, when in doubt, do your research and buy from a reputable retailer.