In another of our special seasonal features on UFWC spin-offs, we look at the women’s version of the competition…
The women’s UFWC (or WUFWC if you will), is nearly 100 years younger than its male counterpart, having been inaugurated only in 1971. FIFA class the first women’s international as being France v Holland in 1971, played in the small northern French town of Hazebrouck. The hosts won 4-0, and became the WUFWC’s first champions. Switzerland, Holland and England were the next holders, all for brief spells, before Scandinavia began to display the sort of form in the women’s game that they still show today. From 1975 to 1984, the title was shared between Sweden, Denmark and Norway.
The Scandinavian run came to a slightly strange end. Sweden met England in the final of the first ever UEFA European Women’s Championship. The Swedes won the first leg 1-0, whilst England won the second leg (played in the glamorous setting of Luton) by the same scoreline. That was enough for England to take the WUFWC, but not the European Championship, as the Swedes won the ensuing penalty shoot-out. The rules of UFWC, however, state that the match result supercedes the penalty result, so England took the honours.
The next few years saw West Germany and Belgium take the title for the first time. Then came England, Denmark, Italy, and England again. England then lost the title to Sweden in 1987; they have not held it since. Sweden lost immediately to Norway, who in turn lost to the United States – the first time the title had left Europe. It would not be the last, as the WUFWC would in time go truly global.
For the next ten years (1987-97), the title was dominated by five countries: the USA, West Germany (soon to become just Germany), Norway, Denmark and Sweden. Holland held the title for two weeks in 1991, and China for two tiny spells in 1994 (five days) and 1995 (two days), but that’s it. That first Chinese success saw the title visit Asia for the first time. South America followed suit, courtesy of its heavyweight nation Brazil, in 1997.
The USA, though, were never far from the title. They took it back of Brazil, and kept it for much of the next few years, though China, Germany, Norway and Brazil all got another look-in. So, for the first time, did Canada, who took the title for the first time in June 2000. In July 2001, North Korea took the title, doubtless to the delight of their “Dear Leader”. Their spell as champions included a 19-0 win over Guam, and a 24-0 win over Singapore, but Denmark proved sterner stuff, and ended the North Koreans’ year-long reign in August 2002.
The 2002-04 period saw the title go from Denmark to France, China, Germany, France, Norway, Brazil, Sweden, Germany, China, Italy and Norway. In March 2004, the USA took the title once more, and successfully defended 20 times in succession, which is still the competition record. However, so busy were they, that those 20 games only encompassed eight months, so 2004 was still not over by the time that Denmark dethroned them. Incidentally, the Americans also have the second longest reign on record (2009-10) too, as well as the third longest (1996-97), and to date have won more than twice as many title matches as any other nation.
France, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Germany, China, France (again), the USA and Germany (again) all returned for further reigns as holders, but then Germany lost to Norway in March 2007, and it led to carnage. In the space of two months, the title had gone (after Norway lost it) to Denmark, Germany again, Italy, Scotland (for the first time) and Ukraine (also for the first time).
Up to this point, the WUFWC had visited every Women’s World Cup, and every women’s Olympic football tournament. Ukraine, however, would hold the title for 16 months, in which time both the World Cup and the Beijing Olympics (neither of which the Ukrainians had qualified for) came and went.
Ukraine finally relinquished the title to Denmark. The USA, Sweden, Norway and Germany – WUFWC stalwarts all – reigned supreme again, before the USA embarked on another year-long run from October 2009. On 5 November 2010, though, they suffered perhaps the WUFWC’s biggest ever shock, losing 2-1 to Mexico, a country against whom they had won 20 and drawn one of their previous 21 meetings. Mexico’s joy did not last too long though, as they lost to Canada soon after. It is thus Canada who are the reigning WUFWC champions. Only this month Canada beat Mexico again, defeated the Netherlands 5-0 and drew with host Brazil to win a four-team tournament and retain the unofficial title.
Below is a list of occasions when a country has held the UFWC and WUFWC simultaneously. It is a rare feat, achieved so far only by seven countries. Scotland narrowly missed out in 2007; they lost the men’s title to Italy on 28 March, just nine days before gaining the women’s title from, ironically enough, Italy.
11 May 1974 to 31 May 1974: Holland
12 March 1975 to 15 June 1975: England
7 May 1989 to 14 June 1989: Sweden
28 May 1991 to 12 June 1991: Holland
4 June 1992 to 13 June 1992: United States
9 October 1997 to 12 October 1997: Germany
25 March 1998 to 29 April 1998: Brazil
7 July 1998 to 12 July 1998: Brazil
28 March 2007 to 6 April 2007: Italy
Follow the progress of the WUFWC over at the UFWC Forum.
Read more UFWC spin-off features.