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“Chasing the ball” – A display of football stickers featuring Ireland and Italy at the World Cup 1990-2002

To mark the occasion of the 2022 World Football Cup, and to celebrate the close ties between Ireland and Italy in the finals of past tournaments, the Italian Institute of Culture in Dublin, with the support of the Embassy of Italy in Ireland, is bringing an exhibition to Cork and Dublin which will showcase original material covering the 1990, 1994 and 2002 World Cups.

On January the 5th at 6.15 pm, at Dublin Castle’s Printworks Building, the Ambassador of Italy in Ireland Ruggero Corrias and the former Italian football player Totò Schillaci have lauched the exhibition “Chasing the ball” A display of football stickers featuring Ireland and Italy at the World Cup 1990-2002. The project is promoted by the Italian Institute of Culture in Dublin and curated by FMAV – Museo della Figurina in Modena (Italy).

This free Exhibition will remain open until the 22nd of January 2023. OPENING TIMES MON-SAT 10 am -5.30 pm

It has been also displayed in St. Peter’s Hall, Cork from November 14th to December 8th 2022 and has been visited by more than 10.000 people.


The exhibition will display a series of albums, stickers, drawings and original materials which are related to the 1990, 1994 and 2002 editions of the World Cup. Ireland and Italy will be the protagonists, with their teams, players, opponents and matches played. It is a unique opportunity to re-experience an historic moment for our two countries.

Some 80 albums, 18 drawing representing the goals scored by the Irish teams, and much more, will be on display. These cover the three World Cup tournaments and comprise hundreds of trading cards. However, the on-pitch meeting between Ireland and Italy is a fascinating crossroads that goes beyond these tournaments. Sometimes the encounters turned into personal bonds as the players went on to represent more than football.

The items on display have been loaned from the Gianni Bellini collection, with Bellini widely considered to be the world’s leading collector of football trading cards and stickers. As a collector, he has attracted the attention of major international publications, including L’Equipe and the football magazine FourFourTwo, in addition to TV networks like CBS, CNN and the History Channel.


The aim of the exhibition is to give visitors the chance to feel as if they actually attended the matches themselves and get to know the great World Cup players, most especially the tournament played in Italy, the first in which Ireland reached the knockout stages.

In the 1990 tournament, as well as the following one held in 1994 in the United States of America, the two national teams faced each other in matches that resulted in moments of great football and passion that delighted the supporters of both nations. These three tournaments are firmly imprinted in the minds of Irish and Italian fans alike for similar and sometimes contrasting reasons. Bitter disappointments, albeit with remarkable results, were met by the Italian national team; whilst the Irish team saw great results and a new-found soaring public affection.


Download the pdf presentation of the event by clicking HERE!

Watch the video presentation HERE.


WHY WORLD CUP 1990-1994-2002?

In 1990, Italy played in the World Cup finals for the twelfth time: it did so as the host country, hoping to bag their second home soil win. The Irish team, on the other hand, were making their début… there were no great expectations other than a desire to make a good impression and reciprocate the country’s growing confidence in itself.

Four years later: USA 94, the first World Cup in which the desire to promote the passion for football was combined with marketing laws. It was the occasion of the Ireland-Italy rematch, a game played in an iconic American Football stadium, in an even more iconic city – New York – that is home to large Irish and Italian immigrant populations.

Korea/Japan 2002 was a World Cup of many firsts. Heralded since the early 1990s, when several football greats chose to end their careers in the J League, it was the edition that finally marked Asia’s emergence onto the football world stage. A World Cup punctuated by unexpected results, that led to a final that was anything but surprising. Ireland and Italy trod parallel paths and suffered the same fate.


The Museo della Figurina (Stickers Museum) in Modena was born from the collecting passion of Giuseppe Panini, founder in 1961 of the company of the same name together with his brothers Benito, Franco Cosimo and Umberto. Over the years, the small colour prints he collected have formed an extraordinary collection, donated to the Municipality of Modena in 1992 and now part of the Modena Visual Arts Foundation.

Alongside the stickers, which have been printed starting from the second half of the nineteenth century, the collection brings together materials that are quite similar to stickers in terms of technique and function: small antique prints, matchboxes, letter seals, paper money, menus, calendars, albums published by companies or created as a hobby by collectors following their own taste and imagination, and many other materials.

Within a powerful archive of more than 500,000 pieces, it is possible to find iconographies relating to the most diverse themes.


Gianni Bellini was born in San Felice sul Panaro (Modena, Italy) and has been collecting trading cards since he was a child. During the 1980s, his passion turned into a fully-fledged second job, involving a lot of study and research. He began to collect material from all over the world, first by placing advertisements in international football magazines and then tapping into the web’s potential and in turn, creating a vast network of correspondents in every single continent.

The collection currently consists of more than 4,000 albums from all over the world, complete with around 2,500,000 stickers and cards, which fully encompass the entire history of football.

He is considered to be the world’s leading collector of football cards and stickers.


Simone Ferrarini (aka Collettivo FX) is a street artist whose current speciality lies in creating murals predominantly in public spaces. However, he began his career as a graphic designer by sketching football action and goals in 1992 for the Italian daily newspaper ‘Il Resto del Carlino’.

Goal sketches were widely used in major Italian sports magazines and newspapers until the 1990s, as a way of giving fans a glimpse of the action at a time when pay TV and the web were not yet widespread. Now that images are readily attainable, goal sketches are no longer used for reporting purposes, but rather to help fans understand; its function having changed over time. One single image can condense and capture an entire move that would only be partly comprehensible on video. Furthermore, drawings boast a higher evocative potential, in turn, making the goal-scoring moment more iconic.

Reservation no longer available

  • Organized by: IIC Dublino
  • In collaboration with: FMAV Museo della Figurina