When it comes to investing in this hobby, the old adage for any investment is just as true. Buy low and sell high. Part of that is being able to anticipate well in advance when an athlete is going to start performing better. Andrew Wiggins had a fantastic NBA Finals for the Warriors, and the time to pick up Andrew Wiggins pieces cheap was 6-12 months ago. If you can predict which team will win the World Series, it’s wise to start stocking up on that team’s star athlete now. But what if you could do this for an entire sport and not just a single athlete? You can, and the sport is Soccer. The magazine? Sports Illustrated.
Investing in Soccer
The World Cup is played every four years and normally in the summer. But because the 2022 World Cup is being played in Qatar, where the average high temperature in June and July is 108, FIFA decided that December would be a much better idea. This means you have about 6 months before the global sporting world starts to laser focus on Soccer…and this isn’t the 2018 World Cup where the US Men’s National Team failed to qualify. The US team has a guaranteed spot for 2022. Here’s a quick look at how Soccer memorabilia has performed lately.
Diego Maradona “Hand of God” jersey from 1986 World Cup sells for $9.3 million in May 2022. An all-time record price for any piece of sports memorabilia sold at auction. Not just Soccer memorabilia…any piece, in any sport…ever!
In February 2022 the 1958 Alifabolaget Pele rookie card sold for $1.33 million through Goldin. That’s not only a record price for any Pele card, it was also the first soccer card to be sold for more than $1 million.
With all of that in mind, here are a handful of Sports Illustrated soccer covers to be on the lookout for.
V120 #23 June 9, 2014
Lionel Messi makes his 1st Sports Illustrated cover appearance on this date. Not only is this his 1st cover, but it’s also 1 of 4 variant covers. SI produced 4 different covers that week, with Messi being on one of them.
What does this mean? Variant covers are much rarer than the normal weekly issues where every copy has the same cover. As a result, variant 1st covers are extremely desirable by collectors. If you think the 2022 World Cup is going to raise his profile here in the US, just wait until he joins the David Beckham-owned Inter Miami MLS team in 2023!
V120 #23 June 9, 2014
Cristiano Ronaldo was one of the other 1 of 4 variant covers the same week as Messi. Crazy that these two global stars get their 1st Sports Illustrated covers in the same week.
Ronaldo is still the biggest name in soccer worldwide, and a variant 1st cover from him will be collectible for the long term.
V107 #2 July 16, 2007
David Beckham has done it all. 6 Premiere League titles with Manchester United, La Liga Championship with Real Madrid, he won the FA Cup twice and the UEFA Champions League in 1999. Plus he’s the part-owner of MLS team Inter Miami, and married to a freaking Spice Girl!
V65 #1 July 7, 1986
While this Diego Maradona cover won’t come close to selling the kind of money paid for his “Hand of God” jersey, it’s still one of the most collectible Sports Illustrated covers featuring a soccer player. Very difficult to find in newsstand, the highest-graded copy of this issue stands at 9.4.
V42 #25 June 23, 1975
The granddaddy of them all, Pele’s first cover. He was the face of soccer worldwide for decades. Pele has won 3 World Cup titles and his total of 1,279 career goals scored is recognized as a Guinness World Record.
There’s a reason his rookie card sold for $1.3 million. With only 4 copies of his 1st Sports Illustrated graded, with the highest being 8.5, do everything you can to dig one of these up in any condition. Very rare, and very collectible
*Full disclosure – I own copies of the Messi, Ronaldo, Beckham, and Pele issues.