In the latest of our continental UFWC features, this post looks at the unofficial championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean (known in football circles as CONCACAF).
The first CONCACAF match took place between the United States and Canada in 1885 – the first international held outside the United Kingdom. However, FIFA have not deemed it official, so the competition had to wait until 1925 before getting underway. The same two teams met, with Canada winning 1-0. The US took revenge (and the title) later that year, and kept it until 1937, although they only defended it twice in the meantime.
Mexico took the title off the Americans, and kept it for even longer – they did not lose to another CONCACAF team until 1961 (a reign of 24 years, including 29 successful defences – still the CONCACAF record). It was Costa Rica who ended the Mexican dominance and, although Mexico soon regained the title, their next reign ended in sensational fashion as they lost to the tiny Netherlands Antilles in 1963. This is a match UFWC fans will know all about, as it gave the Antilles not only the unofficial CONCACAF title, but the unofficial world title too. Sadly for them, they lost four days later to Costa Rica, who then embarked on a fine two-year reign as unofficial CONCACAF champions. El Salvador and Panama then had brief reigns, before a more lengthy reign for Guatemala.
Guatemala lost the title in 1968, and the period from then until 1975 saw the title move around regularly: El Salvador (three times), Costa Rica (three times), Honduras (once), Haiti (twice), Mexico (twice), Trinidad and Tobago (once) and Jamaica (twice) all held the title. There was then some more stability. First, Haiti had a period of CONCACAF dominance (1975-77), which was supported by a brutal political regime. Then came Mexico (1977-80) and the United States (1980-84). This was the first American reign as champions since 1937; their 1980 victory over Mexico was a watershed moment for the US after years of insignificance on the international football front.
The rest of the 1980s saw the title visit Guatemala (twice), Costa Rica (twice), Honduras (once), Canada (twice), Mexico (twice), Netherlands Antilles (once) and El Salvador (once).
Title holders in the 1990s were: Canada (twice), Mexico (five times), United States (twice), El Salvador (once), Costa Rica (twice), Honduras (twice), Trinidad and Tobago (twice), Jamaica (four times) and Guatemala (once).
Since the millennium, the title has gone to Panama, Honduras (twice), Canada (twice), Trinidad and Tobago (twice), Costa Rica, Guatemala, Grenada and Jamaica. However, the United States (five reigns) and Mexico (four) have dominated the period. Mexico have totalled 18 successful defences in this time, whilst the United States have 45. Ever since thrashing the US to win the 2009 Gold Cup, Mexico have held the title, although they have not played a fellow CONCACAF nation since October 2009.
Follow the progress of the unofficial continental championships over at the UFWC Forum.
Read more continental UFWC features.