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Football fever is slowly engulfing the world as the 2018 Fifa World Cup approaches. There are many ways to celebrate the occasion and issuing stamps to honour the event is just one of them. As fans make travel arrangements to Russia for the opening ceremony on June 14, stamp collectors, too, are getting ready for the mega-event. ‘Football philately’ experts will be eyeing 53 unique stamps and stamped envelopes that will showcase the Russia World Cup. Host countries have taken out stamps to honour the game and its players for a long time, while countries that win the World Cup, too, join in the philatelic fun. In fact, before Philipp Lahm and his men beat Argentina 1–0 in the 2014 final, German postage had celebrated the triumph, printing five million stamps in advance! Uruguay’s first postal stamps that mark a 3–0 win over Switzerland in the 1924 Olympics are highly coveted among collectors, as are the ones issued by Hungary in 1925—the first to depict a football and a player in action. Several countries try innovation in a bid to attract collectors, like issuing round-shaped stamps resembling the shape of a football. Bolivia produced the only tin souvenir stamp sheet in the world for the 1986 FIFA World Cup, held in Mexico. Intricately designed sheets, like those issued by the Republic of Korea in 2002, are also much in demand. Philately is a curious hobby, as errors can carry more value. A notable example is the 1998 World Cup winners stamp set from Bhutan, where Uruguay is depicted as the winners of the 1958 tournament, instead of Brazil. Whether it is the beautiful game or an equally alluring hobby, Fifa World Cup is undoubtedly the event of the year!
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