Your excellencies. Heads of state and government. Delegates and bid teams. Members of the media. Ladies and gentlemen. It is my pleasure to welcome you all to this blog post on behalf of the UFWC, to witter on a bit about how football was invented in China or something, and to announce that the next Unofficial Football World Championships title match will be held in… [opens golden envelope]… QATAR!
But you knew that already, didn’t you? Current unofficial champs Japan will play Jordan on 9 January 2011 in Qatar for the UFWC title, and we can categorically state that no brown envelopes, vote rigging or similar shenanigans were involved. No world leaders, future kings or footballing celebrities have turned up cap-in-hand at UFWC towers offering all-expenses paid trips and luxury designer gifts. We don’t do any of that. The UFWC goes wherever football takes us.
There’s been a lot of criticism aimed at FIFA following the announcements that Russia and Qatar will host the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments. It’s hardly the first time FIFA has faced criticism and allegations of corruption. Given the way that national associations pander to FIFA’s whims it would be easy to believe that FIFA owned the exclusive rights to kicking a ball between two posts. But football was around long before FIFA was formed, and it will be around long after FIFA is gone. No organisation or individual is bigger than the game, and that’s something that shouldn’t be forgotten.
UFWC fans will know that Unofficial Football World Championships lineage goes back to 1872, 58 years before the first World Cup, which was held in 1930. FIFA was formed in 1904, and the first UFWC title match with any sort of FIFA involvement was Ireland vs England on 17 February 1906, although only unofficial champs England were FIFA members. The first UFWC match between two FIFA members was Hungary vs England on 29 May 1909.
But UFWC / FIFA history remained fractious. The British home nations were in pretty much constant dispute with FIFA between the wars, and all four resigned from FIFA in 1928, eventually rejoining in 1946. So the 1950 World Cup was the first that could really claim to be representative of international football.
From that point on, most UFWC title matches are FIFA ‘A’ accredited matches. According to FIFA, international ‘A’ matches are those that are arranged between two FIFA-affiliated national football associations in which both associations field their first national representative team. That seems clear enough, and, usually, the UFWC counts matches listed on the FIFA.com list of fixtures and results.
Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to rely on FIFA’s records. Since its inception, FIFA has required national associations to register its matches. FIFA recorded the details of these matches in yearbooks. That was pretty much FIFA’s main responsibility. But, it seems, FIFA somehow managed to lose its yearbooks. By FIFA’s own admission, the records it now holds have been sourced from various third parties, and it cannot vouch for their complete accuracy.
It’s worth pointing out that the UFWC has no particular dispute with FIFA. If anything, FIFA has been supportive of the UFWC, telling us: ‘As long as people have fun with football and that it is played in the spirit of respect for all involved, the non-violation of the Laws of the Game and the ethics of sport, FIFA is more than happy! We wish the UFWC fans a lot of fun!’
Those ‘Laws of the Game’, of course, aren’t determined by FIFA – at least not entirely. They’re the responsibility of the International Football Association Board (IFAB), which was originally formed in 1886 by the Football Associations of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland (now Northern Ireland). FIFA representatives joined in 1913, and in 1958 FIFA was awarded four votes, giving them an equal standing alongside the original members. Six votes are required to approve any change to the laws of the game, meaning that FIFA need the support of at least two British home nations to change the rules of football. Similarly, the original IFAB members can’t make rule changes without the support of FIFA.
The aftermath of the WC 2018 and 2022 announcements suggests that FIFA will have to change the way it operates, whether it wants to or not. And that can only be a good thing, for FIFA and for football. Let’s get rid of all the nonsense and get back to the basics, which pretty much begins and ends with 22 men kicking a ball about. Let’s kick politics out of football!
The UFWC may or may not be in Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022, depending on where the unofficial championships lineage leads us. All we can say for now is that the UFWC will be in Qatar on 9 January. Japan vs Jordan for the Unofficial Football World Championships. So if you’re sick of FIFA and sick of the official competition, support the unofficial alternative!
You can read more about the history of the UFWC (and FIFA) in the new Unofficial Football World Champions book.
If you’re new to the Unofficial Football World Champions, check out the beginner’s guide to the UFWC.
For more about the upcoming Japan vs Jordan match see Jordan: UFWC challenger uncovered.
You can show your support for the UFWC by wearing an official T-shirt from the UFWC T-shirt shop.