Guess who’s the latest to join the FIFA World Cup fever. An unlikely candidate — the Department of Posts. At a time when interest in philately as a hobby is waning, the department has decided to harness the buzz around the World Cup and released commemorative stamps on Thursday — the day the football fiesta kicked off in Brazil.

The set of four stamps and a miniature sheet that was released depicts the action on the field and also the mascot, Fuleco. Chennai City region office has made available nearly 50,000 stamps for philately aficionados in the city.

A month-long philately exhibition that began at the Philatelic Bureau, Anna Road HPO, was a treasure trove of nearly 800 stamps and first day covers dating back from 1930. From stamps on the game’s moves and famous stadiums to winners and stamps from various countries on previous World Cups, the exhibition, by tracking the evolution of the game, elicits the interest of viewers.

Rolands Nelson. J., secretary of South India Philatelists Association, who had his collection on display, said: “I have been collecting stamps for three decades. This particular collection took me 10 years. We get to learn about history through the hobby.”

His collection includes Austria’s football stamp made of the synthetic material used to make footballs, the oldest stadium in England and 3D miniature stamps released by Slovakia. Stamps need not be square-shaped ones as some football stamps in Germany have come out in odd shapes. “We meet every second Sunday to discuss on our hobby. Many philatelists now buy online. We have over 200 members in Chennai. New memberships have come down,” Mr. Nelson said.

Mervin Alexander, Postmaster General, Chennai City region (CCR) said the department releases commemorative stamps regularly to attract stamp collectors. The latest on Sachin Tedulkar was a huge hit. Every year, 50 commemorative stamps are released. “We have 40 philately accounts being opened every month,” he added.

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