Welcome to the UFWC in 2014, where another exciting year awaits. All eyes are on Brazil and the 2014 World Cup Finals. Current UFWC champions Uruguay have qualified for the Finals, but whether or not they can take the title to Brazil – and retain it once they get there – remains to be seen.

Uruguay became UFWC champions last October after beating Argentina 3-2. They then retained the title via two World Cup qualification play-off legs against Jordan. For those who are new to the UFWC, it’s contested via a series of consecutive title matches, with the lineage stretching back to the very first international football match in 1872. Winners of title matches become title holders and Unofficial Football World Champions.

Uruguay’s UFWC reign:
20/11/13 Uruguay 0-0 jordan Jordan
13/11/13 jordan Jordan 0-5 Uruguay
16/10/13 Uruguay 3-2 argentina Argentina
See all recent fixtures and read match reports
Read the UFWC review of the year 2013
Find out more about how the UFWC works

Uruguay have won the World Cup twice, in 1930 and 1950. Their first UFWC win came in March 1953, and they’ve won a total of 18 title matches to date. They are one of only eight sides to have held both the official and unofficial titles simultaneously. Uruguay’s 18 title match wins place them 11th in the UFWC Ranking Table.

Current UFWC Ranking Table:
1 scotland Scotland 86 title matches won
2 england England 73
3 argentina Argentina 57
4 netherlands Netherlands 49
5 russia Russia 41
6 brazil Brazil 29
7 sweden Sweden 28
8 germany Germany 27
8 italy Italy 27
10 france France 25
11 Uruguay 18
See the full ranking table
Find out why Scotland are top

As their status as Unofficial Football World Champions suggest, the current Uruguay team is pretty strong. The coach is Oscar Tabarez, El Maestro, and the captain is Diego Lugano of West Bromwich Albion. The country’s star players are strikers Luis Suarez of Liverpool and Edinson Cavani of Paris Saint Germain, who have scored 39 goals and 20 goals respectively for their country.

So far, Uruguay have announced just one warm up match ahead of Brazil 2014, against Austria in Klagenfurt on 5 March. As things stand, that will be the next UFWC title match. In the run up to the 2010 World Cup, at which they finished in fourth place, Uruguay played two warm up matches, so we can expect at least one further friendly to be added to the fixture list.

Warm Up Fixture:
5 March, Klagenfurt: Austria vs Uruguay

There’s no guarantee that the UFWC title will be contested in Brazil. Austria didn’t qualify for the World Cup so, should Uruguay lose the warm up in Klagenfurt, UFWC fans will then have to rely on Austria to play and lose to side that did qualify before the tournament begins.

But assuming Uruguay do avoid defeat in their warm up matches, they’ll need to defend the UFWC title in Group D, a tough group that also includes Costa Rica, England and Italy. Current FIFA rankings suggest that Uruguay and Italy should be favourites to qualify from the group stage, while the UFWC rankings suggest England might edge out Uruguay. Remember that the UFWC rankings take into account the entire history of international football, dating back to 1872, while the FIFA rankings began in 1993.

Group D:
Uruguay FIFA rank: 6; UFWC rank: 11
Costa Rica FIFA rank: 31; UFWC rank: 29
England FIFA rank: 13; UFWC rank: 2
Italy FIFA rank: 7; UFWC rank: 8

The Group D fixtures show how the UFWC title could change hands over the first ten days of the tournament. Uruguay will be expected to beat Costa Rica, and then draws against England and Italy would be enough to retain the title, and should be enough to secure qualification. The Unofficial Football World Champions would then take their title into the knock-out stages.

Group D Fixtures:
14 June, Fortaleza: Uruguay vs Costa Rica
15 June, Manaus: England vs Italy
19 June, Sao Paulo: Uruguay vs England
20 June, Recife: Italy vs Costa Rica
24 June, Natal: Italy vs Uruguay
24 June, Belo Horizonte: Costa Rica vs England

Not all pundits think Uruguay will do well at the World Cup. “I get the feeling we have seen the best of this current Uruguay team and that they are petering out as a major force,” says Gary Lineker on the BBC Sport website. Clearly he has not been following the UFWC.

Whatever happens in 2014, you’ll find full coverage of the UFWC right here. You can keep up to date by following us on on Twitter or Facebook.

Regular readers will notice that the UFWC website has been redesigned, with a cleaner and simpler look that should work well on mobile devices. There are various other changes around the site, with more to come over the coming months. Notably, we have expanded our Rules page in an attempt to make the rules clearer. Note that the rules haven’t been changed. We’ve simply added more information following various queries received from readers.

And the big news this week is that the brand new revised and updated edition of the official UFWC book, Unofficial Football World Champions by Paul Brown, has been released and is available to purchase from all good bookshops. This is the third edition of the book that was labelled ‘a fascinating history of football’ by FourFourTwo magazine in a five-star review.

The new edition is expanded to include new matches, teams, players and statistics. It’s fully up to date to the start of 2014, including all 879 UFWC title matches played between 1872 and 2014, and all 48 unofficial football world champions – right up to current champions Uruguay. The book is available in paperback and on Kindle, with other ebook formats coming soon. Find out more about the UFWC book.

New UFWC book

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Book Depository

About Paul Brown

Paul is a freelance journalist and author. He created the UFWC in 2003, and subsequently wrote the Unofficial Football World Champions book. He can be found on Twitter @paulbrownUK.