It is well known within the hobby that PSA has hired a significant number of new employees over the past 15 months. Many of these new hires have joined long-standing teams within the organization such as grading, shipping and research. Others are experts that have filled new positions that were designed to expand our research and subject matter capabilities and further ensure that PSA remains the hobby’s premier authentication and grading service.
Over the last 100+ years, the majority of soccer cards have been produced and distributed internationally. The combination of age, access to exemplars, and non-English languages printed on the cards and spoken in issuing countries can add significant challenges to the proper identification and documentation of these issues. With the recent and immense growth of the soccer card genre, PSA has hired specialists to expand and improve our services in that area. Soccer cards have a long history in the hobby and our new team members are especially valuable in the area of research.
Baseball, football, basketball and hockey collectors all benefit from numerous resources where checklists and information about particular cards can be easily located. Other sports that have increased in hobby popularity only recently such as soccer, racing, lacrosse and tennis have yet to be documented as thoroughly. Misinformation is occasionally encountered in these areas as a result. Such a case recently occurred with three soccer stickers and PSA is now correcting the issue within our system, while notifying the hobby and making things right for collectors.
While working on various sets, new members of the research department discovered three items within the PSA system that raised questions among our soccer specialists:
- 2011 Panini Futbol Argentino Update Stickers #X236 Paulo Dybala
- 2017 Abril Campeonato Carioca SUB20 Promo Stickers
- 2017 O Globo Brazil Promessas Stickers
All three of these stickers are found on a popular soccer card website, which likely contributed to their initially being recognized by PSA. However, a deeper dive into these issues by our research team revealed enough uncertainty to warrant a full study and corrective action to be taken. In the case of each sticker, no hard information has been found to link these to a specific release or manner of distribution.
The 2011 Panini Futbol Argentino Update Stickers #X236 Paulo Dybala were purported to have been issued as part of a late-season update series. However, Panini has never issued update series in this manner, and Dybala is the only card listed as being part of this update set.
The 2017 Abril Campeonato Carioca SUB20 Promo Stickers are said to have been distributed to attendees of a youth tournament in Brazil. However, there is no official documentation of this ever occurring.
Lastly, the 2017 O Globo Brazil Promessas Stickers were said to have been presented to children at an O Globo office party (O Globo is a major newspaper in Brazil). Again, there is no first-hand account or documentation of this ever happening nor is there a complete checklist for the set.
Further research into past transactions for these stickers revealed that the vast majority of sales all came from a single dealer in the United States. There have been no past sales for these items in Brazil, which is supposedly the country from where they originated.
After further inquiries with notable soccer card enthusiasts, it is now suspected that these stickers were illegally produced and presented as authentic, licensed pieces to the soccer card documentation website. This site generates much of its information from shared knowledge among hobbyists and crowdsourcing checklists. These three stickers now appear to be the product of unethical dealers taking advantage of an otherwise beneficial hobby resource and using it to scam unsuspecting soccer fans and collectors.
PSA has since deactivated these stickers within our system and will no longer be grading examples that may be submitted in the future. If you happen to own one (or more) of these stickers that is currently in a PSA holder, please go to our website and contact the Customer Request Center for further information.