The UFWC is back, after a four-month winter break, with unofficial football world champions Peru looking to defend their title, and take it into the 2018 World Cup Finals in Russia. Peru’s World Cup campaign kicks off on 16 June against Denmark. But before that the UFWC champions will need to avoid defeat in a series of World Cup warm-up matches, starting with a friendly against Croatia at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on 23 March.
Peru have been UFWC champions since August, when they defeated Bolivia 2-1 in a World Cup qualifier. They are currently 20th in the all-time UFWC rankings. By comparison, Peru are ranked 11th by FIFA. The UFWC rankings take into account the entire history of international football, dating back to 1872, while the FIFA rankings began in 1993.
For those who are new to the UFWC, the Unofficial Football World Championships is an international football competition contested in a simple boxing-style title system. Winners of title matches become title holders and Unofficial Football World Champions. A draw means the current holder retains the title. UFWC lineage goes back to the very first international match in 1872. Any ‘A’ international can be a UFWC title match, including friendlies.
There were four UFWC champions in 2017, competing in 12 UFWC title matches, containing 22 goals. 2017 began with Chile in the UFWC hot seat having taken the title from Uruguay. Chile beat Croatia (on penalties) and Iceland, but lost to Argentina. There was then something of a shock result as Argentina lost 2-0 to Bolivia. Bolivia beat Nicaragua twice, before losing 2-1 to Peru. That was on 31 August, and since then Peru have beaten Ecuador, drawn with Argentina and Colombia, and drawn with and beaten New Zealand (in a two-legged play-off).
Should Peru manage to hold on to the UFWC title through to Russia 2018 (or should another WC qualifier take the title) it would be the 13th time the unofficial title has been contested at an official World Cup tournament. Peru are in Group C, which also contains France, Australia and Denmark. If you fancy a flutter on the in-form UFWC champions, Peru are 9/1 to reach the quarter finals, 80/1 to reach the final, and 200/1 to win the World Cup.
Peru FIFA rank: 11; UFWC rank: 20
France FIFA rank: 9; UFWC rank: 11
Australia FIFA rank: 36; UFWC rank: 43
Denmark FIFA rank: 12; UFWC rank: 36
Group C Fixtures:
16 June 2018, France v Australia, Kazan Arena, Kazan
16 June 2018, Peru v Denmark, Mordovia Arena, Saransk
21 June 2018, Denmark v Australia, Cosmos Arena, Samara
21 June 2018, France v Peru, Central Stadium, Yekaterinburg
26 June 2018, Denmark v France, Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
26 June 2018, Australia v Peru, Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi
Before we get to Russia, though, we must navigate the warm-up friendlies. The Croatia match is the first hurdle for Peru – if FIFA classify it as an ‘A’ match. Only ‘A’ matches, where both countries field their first teams, count as UFWC title matches. FIFA have yet to list Peru v Croatia on their website, although as the match will be played during a designated international break we do expect both sides to field their first teams. UPDATE: Peru v Croatia is now listed on the FIFA website.
We have more big new on the way. A brand new edition of the Unofficial Football World Champions book will be released in the coming days, revised and updated for 2018. This will be the fourth edition of the book, which was first published in 2006, and has been updated every four years. Click here for more details.
Are you a football fan? If so, our new book is about YOU.
Savage Enthusiasm: A History of Football Fans is the brand new book from UFWC creator Paul Brown, tracing the evolution of the fan from the earliest origins of the game through to the present day.
It’s available from Amazon stores worldwide at the sale price of £10 (
RRP £12.99) or $13.95 – click here.