This is how it works: the Unofficial Football World Championships (UFWC) pitches real international teams into a continuous series of boxing-style title matches. Winners of UFWC title matches become title-holders, and move up the rankings table.
UFWC lineage goes right back to the very first international football match in 1872, between Scotland and England in Glasgow. As Scotland and England were the only international teams in existence, the winner of this initial match could safely claim to be the best side in the world – the Unofficial Football World Champions, if you will. Unfortunately, neither side managed to win the match – the score was a rather disappointing 0-0. So swiftly fast-forward to the second international football match, again between England and Scotland, and played in London on 8 March 1873. This time there were a full six goals – England won 4-2, and became the very first Unofficial Football World Champions. But they didn’t hold the title for long. In 1874 they were beaten 2-1 by Scotland, meaning the UFWC title passed to the Scots.
The UFWC title bounced backward and forward between England and Scotland, and then Ireland and Wales got involved. The British home nations dominated the UFWC during international football’s formative years, until the instigation of international tours and tournaments meant sides from all around the globe began to play each other. Following the UFWC lineage through almost 800 friendly and competitive matches, we can trace how the title was passed between over 40 different nations during more than 130 years of international football. It has been held by most major European and South American teams, plus comparative footballing minnows like Australia, Israel, Ecuador, and the tiny Dutch Antilles. The title has been contested at World Cup finals and in seemingly meaningless friendlies. It has been won by the most celebrated players of all time, and by previously unknown and unsung heroes.