Soccer cards are selling for record prices following sustained interest from a growing number of collectors in 2021.
Is this previously untapped market a viable investment for the future, and what are the latest trends?
Here are our thoughts on the collectible soccer market, and whether it should be seen as the ‘next big thing’.
Why Are Soccer Collectibles Currently Undervalued?
Soccer is the biggest global sport and a top 10 sport in all countries measured. It’s the “dominant sport in South America, Europe and Africa. The World Cup final is watched by an estimated 600 million people”.
Meanwhile, the collectible card market is mainly centered on the U.S., which makes sense given their history of committing players to cardboard. (After all, the Allen & Ginter World’s Champions (N28) baseball set came out back in 1887!)
Many soccer players don’t have a true ‘rookie card’, such was the popularity of sticker sets in the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s.
This all changed at the turn of the millennium, with the hobby picking up steam in the last decade especially. Promising soccer players like Youssoufa Moukoko now have multiple RCs released over the course of a year. These include autos and rare parallels.
The card grading market also plays a role here, as it’s a fairly new concept for European/UK collectors who used to be happy owning a copy of a card.
Grading has helped to provide some separation at the upper end. Prices have started to follow suit over the last few years.
A Growing Market for Soccer Collectibles
We’ll use one of the most famous soccer cards as a quick example.
The 1958 Editora Aquarela LTDA Soccer Pele RC #10 is a card which would complement any collection, with a great profile shot of the famous Brazilian.
Check out sale prices for PSA 2 graded copies, as seen in the image below;
Selling for anywhere between $200-$450 as late as January 2020, they now sell for 10x as much when looking at the same grades.
It’s a solid return on investment, and better than many crypto moonshots over a 12-month period.
(We used PSA 2s as there were more recent sales, but it’s a trend that can be seen when looking at many popular cards.)
Then there’s the 1979 Panini Calciatori Soccer #312 Diego Maradona RC. It’s another important collectible within the hobby, with a PSA 7 graded copy selling for $149.00 in 2018.
A copy of the same sticker recently sold for $7,000. Similar gains can be seen across the board for the very best options, making soccer collectibles a great choice for potential investors.
Are Soccer Collectibles the ‘Next Big Thing’?
We’re heavily invested in the soccer card market, especially considering two of the biggest legends of the game are still plying their trade.
Of course, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have fuelled a lot of interest in sets from Topps, Panini and Futera over the past decade. They’re likely to be fondly remembered in the years to come.
We think their cards will go up drastically following their inevitable retirement, so they’re some of the best options to invest in right now. (Both Ronaldo and Messi still have at least a few years left, but nothing lasts forever.)
Then there’s the next generation of stars in the form of Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe. The market looks solid in the long-term, and should yield promising returns if you’re able to pick up a few RCs.
However, they’ll struggle to match up with the ridiculous records set by Messi and Ronaldo over the last decade.
For a safer bet, look at retired legends like Maradona or Pele. Or any players whose name will ring a bell for the average collector.
For the best possible returns, we’d stick to graded cards, specifically from PSA, BGS, and SGC. (They have been listed in order of the probable sale price if the cards have achieved an equivalent grade.)
We still have hundreds of ungraded cards and stickers that would be worth far more if sent off for grading.
Soccer Collectibles in 2023: Summary
In comparison to more established collectibles like baseball cards, soccer is still in its infancy. Ungraded rookie stickers and parallels can be picked up for a reasonably affordable price. There’s also good scope for profits in the future.
Soccer cards will take time to reach new markets, especially if you’re looking at graded versions. It’s not like graded cards are a new concept, but the soccer market has been resistant to change until recently.
This is fair, as the commodification of yet another hobby is disappointing for older collectors who have seen prices shoot up. (This can be seen everywhere, as hobby box prices from Topps and Panini have now increased to ridiculous levels compared to just a few years ago.)
No matter your budget, there are decent soccer cards and stickers to suit almost every budget. The Pele cards may now be out of reach, but graded Ronaldo options should see similar gains in the future.
What’s your view on the future of the soccer card market? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!