In just over six weeks’ time, the 2015 Copa America – the 44th edition of the South American international football competition – will get underway. Chile are the hosts, and Uruguay are the reigning Copa holders. Alongside ten national teams from the CONMEBOL confederation will be two guests from CONCACAF – Mexico and Jamaica. Argentina and Colombia, both highly placed in Fifa’s rankings, will be among the favourites to win the tournament. But few pundits will discount Brazil, the current Unofficial Football World Champions.
For Brazil, the Copa America offers a welcome opportunity to put the disappointment of the 2014 World Cup behind them. Brazil reached the semi-finals on their own turf last summer, but suffered a humiliating 7-1 defeat at the hands of eventual World Cup winners Germany. The failure shook Brazilian football to its foundations, but the national team have been quick to bounce back from their embarrassment.
Since the World Cup (where they also lost 3-0 to the Netherlands in the third place match), Brazil have played eight friendly matches and won all of them. They’ve beaten four Copa America rivals – Colombia, Ecuador, Chile and Argentina. And the win over Argentina back in October saw them take the UFWC title, which they’ve retained ever since via six consecutive UFWC title match victories.
At this point, on the occasion of the launch of a new-look UFWC website, let’s provide a quick catch-up for those who are new to the UFWC: The Unofficial Football World Championships (UFWC) is an alternative method of determining the best team in the world. It uses a continuous boxing-style title match system, where winners of title matches become title holders and champions, and move up the rankings. UFWC lineage goes right back to the very first international match in 1872, 58 years before the first World Cup. All FIFA ‘A’ matches count in the UFWC, including friendlies. So the UFWC can turn seemingly meaningless friendly matches into cup finals. For more on the history and background of the UFWC see our About page and the FAQ.
So Brazil are the current Unofficial Football World Champions, having taken the title from Argentina, who had taken it from Germany, and so on. 48 national teams have held the UFWC title. This includes most major European and South American teams, plus some unlikely champions such as Angola, North Korea and the tiny (now dissolved) Dutch Antilles. (The Antilles became Unofficial Football World Champions by beating Mexico 2-1 in 1963.) To date there have been 896 UFWC title matches – you can see all of them on our results page.
The UFWC also operates an all-time rankings system, in which teams are awarded one point for each title match win. Brazil are currently ranked sixth, with 35 title match wins. Perhaps surprisingly, the team that tops the all-time rankings is Scotland, followed in second place by England. This is largely because those two nations dominated international football in the years that preceded the first World Cup. The full table is on our rankings page.
The next UFWC title match is the next match involving reigning champions Brazil, which is a friendly against Mexico in Sao Paulo on 7 June. If Brazil win or draw, they will retain the UFWC title. If Mexico win, they will take the title and become Unofficial Football World Champions.
As both Brazil and Mexico will participate in the Copa America, both have the opportunity to take the UFWC title into that tournament. However, there is a potential stumbling block in the way. Brazil will play a subsequent friendly match against Honduras on 10 June. Honduras won’t be at the Copa America, and neither will the UFWC title if Honduras are the holders. Only Brazil and Mexico can take the title to Chile.
With or without the UFWC title, the Copa America tournament kicks off on 11 June, with Mexico playing Bolivia in Vina del Mar on 12 June, and Brazil playing Peru in Temuco on 14 June. The 12 participants are:
Group A: Chile (hosts), Mexico (invited), Ecuador, Bolivia
Group B: Argentina, Uruguay (holders), Paraguay, Jamaica (invited)
Group C: Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela
The two top teams from each group qualify for the knock-out stages, alongside the two best third-placed teams. So Brazil should have few problems progressing from their group – although whether they will still be UFWC champions at that point is another matter.
Brazil’s post-World Cup recovery hasn’t escaped the attention of the bookmakers, and the odds on them winning the Copa America have shortened accordingly. UFWC followers may still consider Brazil worth a bet at the best odds we’ve found, 3/1 at [link expired]. New customers can get a 100% deposit bonus of up to £200. (Odds and offer details correct at time of writing but subject to change – check latest odds and offers here.)
But the nature of the UFWC means we need to take things one match at a time, so our focus for now must be on Brazil versus Mexico on 7 June. It will be the first match back on home soil for Brazil since the World Cup. Much has changed since then, and Dunga’s revitalised team should be welcomed back with enthusiasm by their supporters. Dunga has done a wonderful job since returning as national team coach, but the influence of fit-again captain Neymar can’t be understated. The Barcelona star has been nothing sort of brilliant over the past few games for his country, scoring seven goals in six title match wins.
Mexico, meanwhile, are one of the UFWC’s great underachievers. They’ve played 26 title matches, but won only one, back in 1963. They then lost to the Dutch Antilles in the biggest upset in UFWC history – and arguably the biggest in the whole of international football. They last competed in a UFWC title match in 2010, when they drew 1-1 with then-champions Spain. They did play Brazil in a UFWC title match back in 1956. Brazil won 2-1. Away from the UFWC, Mexico and Brazil met during last summer’s World Cup in a fairly disappointing game that ended 0-0, largely thanks to the efforts of Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa. But, like Brazil, Mexico are rebuilding, and the team that faces Brazil in 2015 may be very different to the one that did so in 2014.
We’ll have full coverage of the Brazil versus Mexico match – and all UFWC title matches – right here on the new-look UFWC website. We hope you’ll like the new features we’ve added, including the new searchable and sortable results and rankings tables, and the new integrated UFWC forum. We’d love to hear what you think of the new site – please do leave a comment below or use our contact form. We’d particularly like to hear from writers interested in contributing to the site, and from advertisers and sponsors interested in partnering with the UFWC.
If you’re new to the UFWC, we hope you’ll stick around. If you’re a UFWC regular, please do tell your friends. And don’t forget you can keep up to date with all things UFWC by following us on on Twitter or Facebook.