Uruguay are the new Unofficial Football World Champions, having taken the title from Argentina in a 3-2 victory last week. But La Celeste (The Sky Blue) are no strangers to the UFWC, and actually have a very good record in the competition. In fact, this is their seventh reign as unofficial champions.
Uruguay were, of course, the first official football world champions, after winning the inaugural World Cup in 1930. They won the World Cup again in 1950, and the official champions would soon take the unofficial title, too. Uruguay first participated in the UFWC in April 1952, when they lost 0-2 to then-champions Chile. The first win came almost a year later, in March 1953, when the World Cup holders beat Peru 3-0 in Lima to become combined WC and UFWC champions. Uruguay are one of only eight sides to have held both the official and unofficial titles simultaneously.
A 2-1 win against England followed, before Uruguay lost the title to Paraguay. Multiple attempts to regain it failed until, in 1958, Uruguay defeated Argentina 1-0 – only to lose 2-0 to the same side just a few days later. A 3-0 Copa America win over Brazil in December 1959 kicked off an excellent run of results that saw Argentina thrashed 5-0, and Chile and Brazil also beaten. But the reign came to an end in August 1960 courtesy of a 0-4 defeat by Argentina.
Uruguay didn’t regain the UFWC title until 1981, when they beat Brazil 2-1 in a friendly in Montevideo. This reign as unofficial champions lasted only four matches. In 1986, they played reigning UFWC champions West Germany at the World Cup Finals in Mexico, but could only draw 1-1 so didn’t take the title.
The next win came in 2006, in the curious ‘Universal Soccer’ tournament in the Los Angeles. Uruguay, playing under new coach Oscar Tabarez, beat Romania 2-0, then went on a five-match run as unofficial champions before losing the title to Venezuela, regaining it in the next match, then losing it to Georgia. Uruguay’s next UFWC title match, at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, ended in a 2-3 loss to the Netherlands.
Uruguay’s current reign as UFWC champions is their seventh. In all, they’ve won 17 UFWC title matches, which ranks them just outside the UFWC all-time top ten in 11th place alongside Hungary and current official champions Spain.
Oscar Tabarez, El Maestro, is still the man in charge, and the current captain is Diego Lugano of West Bromwich Albion. Diego Forlan, now 34 and playing at Internacional in Brazil, is still involved, but Uruguay has plenty of star names – most notably strikers Luis Suarez of Liverpool and Edinson Cavani of Paris Saint Germain. Forlan is Uruguay’s most-capped player, having played 105 times for his country. Suarez is the country’s all-time top-scorer with 39 goals.
Next up for the new Unofficial Football World Champions is a two-legged World Cup qualification play-off against Jordan. The two legs will be played on 13 and 20 November in Amman and Montevideo respectively. A reminder that, under UFWC rules, the two legs will count as two separate UFWC title matches. We’ll have full coverage of both of those matches right here, including previews and details of how you can watch them online and on TV. For live coverage of football and other sports you can check out BT TV packages.
In the meantime, Uruguayan newspapers are reporting their country’s UFWC triumph, Uruguay fans are celebrating on Twitter and Facebook, and the Asociación Uruguaya de Fútbol have been informed that they are the new holders of the CW Alcock Cup. Uruguay campeón!