World Football: The Story Of The Unofficial World Champions

Barney CorkhillSenior Writer ISeptember 17, 2008

Who would you say is the best football team in the world? Spain? Italy? Argentina? Well, prepare to be surprised. The best football team in the world is...Sweden!

That is according to the Unofficial Football World Championships. Instead of the traditional FIFA rankings, the UFWC works on a game by game basis. If you beat the holders of the Unofficial World Championship, you become the champion.

It all started back in 1967, a year after England won the World Cup. They met the auld enemy—Scotland—in a match in the British Home Championship, and were the overwhelming favourites.

England had not lost a game since the World Cup, and were considered perhaps the best in the world, yet alone Britain.

But, somehow, Scotland managed to topple to mighty England. Some fans touted Scotland as the "Unofficial World Champions", and the UFWC was born.

Having this idea, people traced it all the way back to the birth of international football, between England and Scotland.

From 1872 to 1931, the UFWC passed between England, Scotland, and occasionally Wales and Ireland (later to become Northern Ireland).

In 1931, a shock result saw Austria become the first non-British side to claim the UFWC title. It was back in Britain soon enough. In 1950, England took the title into the World Cup, where their shock loss to USA saw it move to the Americas for the very first time.

During it's time there, it was captured by lowly Netherlands Antilles, which still remains the smallest country to have ever held the title, albeit for just four days.

The Soviet Union took the title into the 1966 World Cup, but England took it out, which meant that the England vs. Scotland match did turn out to be an actual UFWC match.

Through the next 20 years it was mostly in South America, with the likes of Argentina, Brazil and even Peru.

Short spells for the title in Australia and South Korea, and, in 2003, Africa, ensured that the title had travelled to every competing continent.

Recently, Georgia, Scotland, Italy, Hungary, Turkey and Greece have had spells as the Unofficial World Champions (Italy to add to their official title in 2006).

Then, on September 10th, 2008, then holders Hungary lost 2-1 to Sweden, giving the Swede's their sixth reign as Champions. It may not last long, however, as they have Portugal up next, in under a month's time.

Portugal would be looking for their first reign as Unofficial World Champions. But, for now, here's to the best team in the world—Sweden!