As Spain, Brazil, Nigeria, Italy, Japan, Uruguay, Mexico and Tahiti prepare to get the Confederations Cup underway, an odd little World Cup type tournament that isn’t really a World Cup, we take a look at a format that has Argentina as the current world champions.
How can there be any logic to that, when Argentina haven’t won the World Cup since the Maradona inspired 1986 team or the Copa America in the last 20 years and sit behind Spain and Germany in FIFA world rankings? Well, the admirably daft but exceedingly fun and fascinating Unofficial Football World Championship has reimagined the history of international soccer as if it was judged in the same way as the undisputed heavyweight championship belt. Basically the only way to become the world champion is to beat the current champion and you retain the championship until someone defeats you on the field of play.
The First Unofficial World Champions
There is a certain compelling logic to it. The authors of the blog have gone all the way back to the first international (a 0-0 tie between Scotland and England in 1872) and traced the championship from there. England won the next match in 1873 and so became the World Champions as they had never been beaten in an international. Scotland defeated them the following year to take the crown, and held onto for the next 6 years by remaining undefeated in 6 games against England and Wales until England reclaimed it with a 5-4 victory in 1879. The championship swapped back and forth between the British nations until Austria took the crown from Scotland in 1931, becoming the first non-British team to hold it. After a succession of European holders, the USA became the first non-Europeans’ to claim it with their shock World Cup victory over England in 1950.
The Championship Goes Global
From then on it winds its way through the high roads and backwaters of the football calendar being won and lost on the field of play, whether they were international friendlies or World Cup finals, and finds its way to such unlikely soccer champions as the Netherlands Antillies, Costa Rica, North Korea, Angola and Georgia.
This year saw Sweden take the championship from North Korea on penalties in the semi final of the Kings Cup before surrendering it to Argentina in a friendly two games later. Argentina remain undefeated since.
Scotland hold the record for the most title defences with 86 (even though their last reign in 2007 lasted just 4 days), England have 73, Argentina 52, Netherlands 49 and Russia 41. Sadly Canada have not yet reached the heady heights of Unofficial Football World Champions. . . .
You can find all of the stats and details on the Unofficial Football World Championship Blog