Unofficial Football World Championships
|4 July 2015||0-0 (4-1 pen.) vs Argentina
2015 Copa América
Estadio Nacional, Santiago, Chile
|5 September 2015|| Paraguay
Estadio Nacional, Santiago, Chile
The Unofficial Football World Championships (UFWC) is an informal way of calculating the world's best international association football team, using a knock-out title system similar to that used in boxing and wrestling. The UFWC was formalized and published by English journalist Paul Brown in 2003. The title is currently held by Chile, who won it from Argentina in the Copa América final on 4 July 2015.
- 1 Background
- 2 Rules
- 3 Tracking the Championship
- 4 All-time rankings
- 5 Book
- 6 Similar concepts
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The idea stemmed originally from some Scotland fans and sections of the media jokingly asserting that as they beat England (who had won the 1966 World Cup) in a British Home Championship match on 15 April 1967 – England's first loss after their FIFA World Cup victory – they were the "Unofficial World Champions".
In 2003 freelance journalist Paul Brown defined the rules of the UFWC, traced its lineage and wrote an article in football magazine FourFourTwo. In 2011 Brown authored a book on the subject. Brown also created and maintains the championship's website which tracks its progression.
The Unofficial Football World Championships is not sanctioned by FIFA, nor does it have any sort of official backing. The winner is awarded a virtual trophy – the CW Alcock Cup, named after him as he was a major instigator in the development of both international football in his role as FA secretary.
- The first team to win an international football match were declared first ever Unofficial Football World Champions. This was England who defeated Scotland 4–2 in 1873 in the second international match, the first having been a draw between the same two nations.
- The next full international (now defined by the standards of a FIFA-accredited international 'A' match) involving the title holder is considered a title match, with the winners taking the title.[N 1]
- In the event of a title match being a draw, the current holders of the title remain champions.
- UFWC title matches are decided by their ultimate outcome, including extra time and penalties.
- An exception to this rule is if the second leg of a two-legged playoff goes into extra time because it is tied on aggregate goals and away goals. Since the purpose of the extra time (and penalty kicks if necessary) is to determine the winner of the playoff, not the individual match, it is not included.
- Title matches are contested under the rules of the governing body which they are sanctioned by.
Tracking the Championship
While the tracking of the Unofficial Football World Champions is a relatively recent phenomenon, the rules are such that results are analysed retrospectively to determine the championship's theoretical lineage from the very first international matches. A comprehensive list of results since 1872 is recorded by UWFC.
The first ever international match was a 0–0 draw between England and Scotland, on 30 November 1872 at Hamilton Crescent. The Unofficial World Championship thus remained vacant until the same two teams met again at the Kennington Oval on 8 March 1873. England won 4–2, and so are regarded as having become the inaugural Unofficial Football World Champions. Wales entered the 'competition' in 1876, and Ireland in 1882. The Championship however, continued to swap between Scotland and England until March 1903, when Ireland beat Scotland 2–0. Wales won the title for the first time in March 1907, beating Scotland 1–0. Scotland regained the Championship the following year, which saw England playing internationally. Scotland however, didn't do the same and so retained the title. By the end of 1909, England had taken the title and defended it outside of the British Isles for the first time. England defeated Hungary 4–2 on 29 May 1909.
Ireland won the title for the third time in 1927, beating England 2–0. Of the two teams using the name Ireland at that time, this was the team representing the Belfast-based Irish Football Association, subsequently known as Northern Ireland.
The fact that none of the Home Nations teams competed in the 1930, 1934 or 1938 World Cups kept the title from travelling too far abroad, and the First and Second World Wars hindered football's globalisation process further.
It was 1931 when the title was first passed outside the British Isles, to Austria in their third attempt with a 5–0 victory over Scotland. They held the title until 7 December 1932 when they lost 4–3 to England at Stamford Bridge, and for all but the last few months of the decade it was held by those four teams. In the 1940s the title was held by continental teams, notably those representing the Axis powers and countries neutral during World War II, but was recaptured by England in time for the 1950 World Cup. Here, in a shock result, they lost to the United States in one of the biggest upsets ever; it was the first venture of the title onto the Americas, where it remained for all but one of the following 16 years.
The UFWC returned to Europe in time for the 1966 FIFA World Cup with the Soviet Union. They lost the championship in the semi-final to West Germany, who lost the final to England. The following year, the England v Scotland match of 1967, which first gave rise to the idea of an unofficial world championship, really was a UFWC title match. With Germany's victory over Netherlands in the 1974 World Cup Final, Germany became the first team to hold the World Cup, European Championship and the UFWC at the same time. The title stayed in Europe until 1978, when it was taken by Argentina, the winners of the 1978 World Cup. It remained in South America until the 1982 World Cup where Peru lost to Poland. The UFWC remained in Europe for the next ten years, except for a one-year tenure by Argentina.
In 1992, the title returned to the United States and then was held for one match by Australia, before it worked its way through several South American nations, back through Europe and to its first Asian holders, South Korea, who defeated Colombia in the 1995 Carlsberg Cup semi-final. The Koreans lost the title to Yugoslavia in their next match, and the UFWC remained in Europe until March 1998 when Germany lost it to Brazil in a friendly. Argentina then defeated Brazil in a friendly to carry the UFWC into the 1998 World Cup.
France repeated Argentina's 1978 feat by taking the title as they won the World Cup on home turf, beating Brazil 3–0 in the final. England took the title for the last time to date at UEFA Euro 2000. France and Spain enjoyed spells as champions before the Netherlands won the title in March 2002. As the Dutch had failed to qualify for the 2002 World Cup, the UFWC was, unusually, not at stake at the official World Cup. The Netherlands retained the title until 10 September 2003, when they lost a Euro 2004 qualifier 3–1 to Czech Republic.
The Czechs defended their title a few times, before losing it to the Republic of Ireland in a friendly via a last-minute winner by Robbie Keane. The title then went to an African nation for the first time, as they lost it to Nigeria. Angola won and kept this title through late 2004 and early 2005. They were then beaten by Zimbabwe (in a match that tripled as a World Cup qualifier and an African Nations qualifier), who held the title for six months before Nigeria re-gained it in October 2005. Nigeria were beaten by Romania, who lost it to Uruguay within six months. Uruguay became the highest ranked team to hold the title since 2004, but their failure to qualify for the World Cup finals meant that, for the second time in succession, the unofficial title was not available at the official championships.
Return to Europe
The title was brought back to Europe by Georgia on 15 November 2006, with both goals scored by Levan Kobiashvili in a 2–0 victory. They lost the title to the highest ranked team in the UFWC of all time, Scotland, on 24 March 2007, nearly forty years since Scotland had last gained the title. Just four days later, Scotland conceded the title 2–0 to FIFA World Cup holders Italy, and the title passed through the hands of Hungary twice, Turkey, Greece and Sweden before being claimed by the Netherlands, who eventually lost the title to Spain in the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final after a run that saw more successful defences than any other reign with 21.
First Asian Cup matches
The European sojourn of the title was brought to an end when Argentina beat Spain 4–1 in a September 2010 friendly, and after beating the Argentines in a friendly, Japan brought the title to the Asian Cup for the first time in 2011, and remained unbeaten throughout the tournament. Scheduled defences of the title were cancelled after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and they held the title for over a year before relinquishing it to North Korea, ranked 124th in the world by FIFA, the lowest ranking of a UFWC champion since the rankings were introduced in 1993. North Korea continued to hold title through their successful campaign in the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup, where low-ranked nations Philippines, Tajikistan, India, Palestine, and Turkmenistan challenged, the last of whom almost pulled off a major upset. North Korea's reign was memorable for the fact that so many low-ranking teams challenged to become holders of the crown – as well as the aforementioned AFC Challenge Cup, low ranking nations competing in the 2013 EAFF East Asian Cup second preliminary round nations such as Kuwait, Indonesia, Chinese Taipei, Guam, and Hong Kong, all unsuccessfully attempted to take the title away from North Korea.
2013 to present
The title was finally taken from North Korea by Sweden in the 2013 King's Cup, a result not recorded as a full international by FIFA, but nevertheless considered valid by the UFWC website. In a friendly in February, Sweden were beaten by Argentina who took the title to South America. In October, Argentina lost a FIFA World Cup qualifier to Uruguay.
Uruguay took the UFWC into Group D of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. During the group-stage an already-eliminated England challenged Costa Rica for the UFWC in their third group-stage game and the UFWC was mooted as a potential consolation prize in the British press, however the match was drawn and Costa Rica took the UFWC into the knockout phase. The UFWC and World Cup were "unified", with Germany securing both in the final.
If the result of the match between North Korea and Sweden in 2013 is deemed unofficial, then the UFWC stays in Asia for much longer. For instance, North Korea extends its reign until 6 September 2013 when they lost 1–2 to Kuwait in a friendly. Then Kuwait retains the crown until 3 March 2014 when they lost 2–3 to Iran in a qualifying match for the 2015 Asian Cup. Iran in turn keeps the trophy until the 2014 FIFA World Cup group stage matches, when they lost 0–1 to Argentina. And Argentina kept the UFWC title until the defeat in the World Cup final by 0–1 to Germany. From then on, both paths tracking the UFWC reunite.
Argentina, the runner-up of the tournament, didn't have to wait long for regaining the UFWC title though, as both teams played a friendly soon after the finals, and Argentina won. But this reign ended one match later, when Brazil won the UFWC title after winning 2014 Superclásico de las Américas.
Brazil managed a great defense of the title, holding it several times in various friendlies in the time frame after the end of the 2014 World Cup and before the Copa América 2015, but their reign ended in 17 June 2015 with a defeat by 0–1 at the hands of Colombia in a group stage match in the Copa América 2015. Colombia lost the title in the quater-finals on penalties to Argentina. Argentina then carried it into the final at the Estadio Nacional in Santiago, where they lost on penalties against Chile.
The UFWC website maintains an all-time ranking table of teams, sorting by number of championship matches won, then alphabetically. Owing mostly to their successes in the early years of international football, where competition was almost entirely limited to the British Isles, the top ranked team is Scotland, followed by England.
|Ranking||Team||UFWC matches played||UFWC matches won||UFWC last held|
|1||Scotland||148||86||28 March 2007|
|2||England||144||73||20 June 2000|
|3||Argentina||101||61||4 July 2015|
|4||Netherlands||82||50||9 July 2014|
|5||Russia[a]||63||41||23 February 2000|
|6||Brazil||69||38||17 June 2015|
|7||Germany||67||28||3 September 2014|
|Sweden||45||6 February 2013|
|9||Italy||56||27||22 August 2007|
|10||France||52||25||28 March 2001|
|11||Uruguay||55||20||14 June 2014|
|12||Hungary||47||17||10 September 2008|
|Spain||31||7 September 2010|
|14||Czech Republic[b]||37||15||31 March 2004|
|15||Austria||35||12||16 June 1968|
|Wales||69||14 September 1988|
|18||Greece||24||11||24 May 2008|
|Japan||23||15 November 2011|
|20||North Korea||16||10||23 January 2013|
|Switzerland||33||26 June 1994|
|22||Colombia||28||9||26 June 2015|
|23||Costa Rica||13||8||5 July 2014|
|Romania||25||23 May 2006|
|25||Angola||10||7||27 March 2005|
|Paraguay||28||5 December 1979|
|Peru||28||22 June 1982|
|Zimbabwe||11||8 October 2005|
|29||Bulgaria||20||6||4 September 1985|
|30||Belgium||18||5||17 January 1990|
|Bolivia||14||20 April 1994|
|Northern Ireland[c]||26||14 October 1933|
|Serbia[d]||18||31 May 1995|
|34||Nigeria||7||4||16 November 2005|
|Poland||18||7 May 1989|
|36||Denmark||17||3||23 August 1989|
|Republic of Ireland||9||29 May 2004|
|38||Ecuador||13||2||22 August 1965|
|Georgia||4||24 March 2007|
|Portugal||22||4 June 1992|
|United States||8||14 June 1992|
|42||Australia||5||1||18 June 1992|
|Curaçao[e]||3||28 March 1963|
|Israel||7||26 April 2000|
|Mexico||14||24 March 1963|
|South Korea||6||4 February 1995|
|Turkey||7||17 October 2007|
|Venezuela||4||18 October 2006|
- Russia's statistics include figures for the Soviet Union before 1992.
- Czech Republic's statistics include figures for Czechoslovakia before 1994.
- Northern Ireland's statistics include figures for Ireland before 1953.
- Serbia's statistics include figures for Yugoslavia before 1992 and Serbia and Montenegro 1994–2006
- Curaçao's statistics include figures for Netherlands Antilles before 2011
|4 January 2011|
|Media type||Print (paperback)|
Freelance journalist Paul Brown, who wrote the original FourFourTwo article on the UFWC and maintains the UFWC website, wrote a book on the championship which was published by Superelastic in 2011. Written in English, it has also been translated into Japanese.
The concept of such a title is not unique to the UFWC, similar concepts, with different rules and therefore different lineages, are discussed below.
The online community at the UFWC website keeps track of UFWC-like linages confined to each FIFA confederation. A Women's Unofficial Football World Championships can be traced back either to the first FIFA-recognised women's international in 1971 (a 4–0 victory for France over The Netherlands) or to earlier internationals that are not FIFA recognised.
A similar virtual title, Nasazzi's Baton, traces the "championship" from the first World Cup winners Uruguay, after whose captain it is named. Nasazzi's Baton follows the same rules as the UFWC, except that it treats all matches according to their result after 90 minutes.
Pound for Pound World Championship
Another similar competition, the Pound for Pound World Championship (PPWC), was created by a Scottish football magazine The Away End. This title only recognises competitive games, although it recognises many unofficial tournaments which are considered to be friendlies by FIFA. As with the UFWC, extra time and penalties are taken into account in defining the winner of a match. It only counts games from as far back as the first FIFA World Cup in 1930, and states that no matter who holds the title of Pound for Pound World Champion they must relinquish the crown at the beginning of every World Cup finals. At the end of the tournament the World Cup winners are crowned the new Pound for Pound World Champions. Therefore, the tournament is "reset" every four years.
- Where the 'A' status of a match is in question, as was the case for 2013 King's Cup matches in January 2013, whether or not the match is considered a title match is at organiser Paul Brown's discretion.
- Watt, Thom (10 August 2013). "Why Scotland are the most successful Unofficial World Champions". STV Sport. Retrieved 2 June 2014.
- Brown, Paul. "Unofficial Football World Championships – FAQ #4". Unofficial Football World Championships. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
- Coyle, Andy (27 March 2011). "Scotland: (unofficially) the greatest international side in history". STV.
- Lines, Oliver (13 August 2013). "Five classic clashes". Sky Sports. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- Knight, Simon (21 June 2013). "Arsenal 'world champions', Wolves rule the world and more spurious 'world titles'". TalkSport. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- Brown, Paul. "Unofficial Football World Championships >> Book". UFWC. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
- Brown, Paul. "Trophy". UFWC. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
- Hesse-Lichtenberger, Uli (4 November 2008). "Undisputed champions of the world". ESPN. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- Brown, Paul (16 October 2013). "Uruguay defeat Argentina to become UFWC champions". UFWC. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
- Results, UWFC.co.uk
- Brown, Paul (1 January 2007). "Scotland vs England 1872". UFWC. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Brown, Paul (11 May 2009). "England vs Scotland 1873". UFWC. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Brown, Paul (3 November 2009). "Hungary vs England 1909". UFWC. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Brown, Paul (15 January 2010). "Austria vs Scotland 1931". UFWC. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Brown, Paul (22 January 2010). "England vs Austria 1932". UFWC. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Brown, Paul (1 January 2007). "England vs USA 1950". UFWC. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Brown, Paul; Holden, David (18 February 2011). "Netherlands Antilles, we hardly knew ye". In Bed With Maradona. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- Brown, Paul (1 January 2007). "England vs West Germany 1966". UFWC. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Brown, Paul (1 January 2007). "England vs Scotland 1967". UFWC. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- "1982 FIFA World Cup Spain – Poland 5:1 Peru". FIFA Official Website. 22 June 1982. Retrieved 21 June 2014.
- Brown, Paul (21 November 2012). "USA vs Australia 1992". UFWC. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- "Carlsberg Cup 1995". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Brown, Paul (8 March 2011). "Brazil vs France 1998". UFWC. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Gledhill, Ben (14 November 2011). "England aren’t the ‘Unofficial World Champions’, Japan are – and North Korea could be next". Independent. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- Brown, Paul (14 June 2009). "England vs Germany 2000". UFWC. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- "UEFA Euro 2004 – History – Czech Republic-Netherlands". UEFA Official Website. 11 September 2003. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Brown, Paul (31 March 2004). "Republic of Ireland 2–1 Czech Republic". UFWC. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Ogden, Mark (1 April 2004). "Czech record scratched by Keane". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Mitchell, Kevin (30 May 2004). "Nigeria turn on style to leave Ireland red-faced". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Brown, Paul (27 March 2005). "Zimbabwe 2–0 Angola". UFWC. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Brown, Paul (1 January 2007). "Romania vs Nigeria 2005". UFWC. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- "Uruguay Defeats Romania 2–0". Washington Post. 24 May 2006. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Bandini, Paolo; Dart, James (8 June 2006). "The Unofficial World Champions Reprise". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- Brown, Paul (15 November 2006). "Georgia 2–0 Uruguay". UFWC. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Brown, Paul (24 March 2007). "Scotland end 40-year UFWC title drought". UFWC. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Moffat, Colin (28 March 2007). "Italy 2–0 Scotland". BBC. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Murray, Scott (28 March 2007). "Italy 2 – 0 Scotland". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Brown, Paul (19 November 2008). "Netherlands 3–1 Sweden". UFWC. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Ashdown, John (2 June 2010). "The real world champions". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- Brown, Paul (11 July 2010). "Netherlands 0–1 Spain (AET)". UFWC. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Markham, Rob (3 February 2011). "Unofficial Football World Champions". ESPN. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- Raynor, Dominic (19 November 2011). "Irish ball bag blag, Korea conquer world". ESPN. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- Gledhill, Ben (15 November 2011). "North Korea claim Unofficial World Champions title". Independent. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- Brown, Paul (9 March 2012). "North Korea 2–0 Philippines". UFWC. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Brown, Paul (11 March 2012). "Tajikistan 0–2 North Korea". UFWC. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Brown, Paul (13 March 2012). "North Korea 4–0 India". UFWC. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Brown, Paul (16 March 2012). "North Korea 2–0 Palestine". UFWC. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Brown, Paul (19 March 2012). "Turkmenistan vs North Korea: AFC Challenge Cup Final". UFWC. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
- "World Football – North Korea win AFC Challenge Cup". Yahoo! Sports. 19 March 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
- Brown, Paul (17 February 2012). "North Korea 1–1 Kuwait". UFWC. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Brown, Paul (10 September 2012). "Indonesia 0–2 North Korea". UFWC. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Brown, Paul (1 December 2012). "Chinese Taipei 1–6 North Korea". UFWC. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Brown, Paul (3 December 2012). "North Korea 5–0 Guam". UFWC. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Brown, Paul (9 December 2012). "Hong Kong 0–4 North Korea". UFWC. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Brown, Paul (23 January 2012). "North Korea 1–1 Sweden (1–4 on penalties)". UFWC. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Brown, Paul (6 February 2012). "Sweden 2–3 Argentina". UFWC. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Media discussions of England's World Cup 2014 UFWC challenge:
- Belam, Martin (10 June 2014). "The Unofficial Football World Championship is also heading for Brazil. And England could win it!". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 10 June 2014.
- Coyle, Andy (22 June 2014). "England's silver lining: Team could become Unofficial World Champions". STV. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
- Williams, Christopher (20 June 2014). "England One Match Away From Title". Paste. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
- Sheen, Tom (24 June 2014). "England have a chance to win the Unofficial World Cup against champions Costa Rica". The Independent. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
- "England can become ‘world champions’ with win against Costa Rica". Yahoo! Sports. 24 June 2014. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
- "Rankings". UFWC. 21 June 2015. Retrieved 21 June 2015.
- UFWC FAQ, UFWC.co.uk
- "Unofficial Football World Champions". Superelastic. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- Waring, Peter (14 January 2013). "UFWC spin-offs update 2013". UFWC. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
- "Unofficial Football World Championships – Forum – WOMENS UFWC". Retrieved 15 June 2014.
- "Pound for Pound World Championships". Retrieved 21 February 2012.