According to the UFWC all-time rankings table, Scotland are unofficially the best team in the world. That’s because across the full lineage of the Unofficial Football World Championships, which stretches back to 1872, the Scots have won more UFWC title matches than any other nation. But they haven’t won a title match since 2007, more than a decade ago. The forthcoming game against current UFWC champions Peru gives Scotland gives them the opportunity to once again be crowned Unofficial Football World Champions.

Scotland top the rankings table, ahead of second-placed England, because of their dominance of international football in the years that preceded the first World Cup. Detractors might say this isn’t fair, as other nations weren’t around to challenge for the title during football’s formative years. But a key attribute of the UFWC is that its lineage goes right back to the very beginning of international football. So Scotland top the rankings on merit, despite the protestations of rival fans. (And, to set the record straight, none of the UFWC originators are Scottish!)

The Scots’ history in the tournament goes right back to the very first UFWC title match in 1872. The opponents were England, and the score was 0-0. In the rematch a year later, England won to become the first UFWC champions. But, in 1874, Scotland defeated England 2-1 to take the title for the first of many times.

For almost 60 years, the UFWC title was passed between Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland (latterly Northern Ireland). Then, in 1931, Scotland travelled to Vienna and were thrashed 5-0 by Austria. For the first time the UFWC title left the British Isles. But it would return, and Scotland continued to win the title with regularity.

In 1938, Scotland beat the Netherlands 3-1 in Amsterdam to retain the UFWC title. However, despite holding the unofficial title, Scotland were not involved in the 1938 World Cup finals, a disorganised shambles in France that eventually saw Italy emerge as official champions.

Scotland lost the title to England in 1939, and so ended the Scots’ dominance of the UFWC competition. They briefly regained the title from England in 1949, but then went 18 full years without even contesting the UFWC.

Then, in 1967, Scotland played undisputed official and unofficial football world champions England at Wembley. Scotland famously won 3-2, in a game that did much to prompt the creation of an unofficial championship.

Scotland lost the next match to the USSR, and embarked on a long 40-year spell in the UFWC wilderness.

Then, in 2007, a 2-1 win over Georgia ended the title drought. But the Scots’ latest reign was short-lived. Four days later they lost 2-0 to Italy.

They’ve not held the title since, although they have contested for it twice, both times against the Netherlands, and both ending indefeats, in March and September 2009.

Scotland have never faced Peru in the UFWC, but the two sides have played each other three times outside of the UFWC, all in the 1970s, with one win each plus a draw making the head-to-head record dead even. But Peru’s win was at the 1978 World Cup Finals, and it effectively prevented Scotland from qualifying for the second round.

The forthcoming match, in Lima on 29 May 2018, is likely to be very difficult for Scotland. UFWC champs Peru are in fine form, unbeaten since 2016, and heading to the World Cup finals. Scotland failed to qualify for Russia 2018, although a 1-0 win over Hungary in Budapest in March, Alex McLeish’s first victory of his second spell in charge, indicates some improvement. Peru will be strong favourites but, with Scottish fans and their national press getting behind their push, Scotland will be aiming to regain the UFWC title and reclaim their crown as Unofficial Football World Champions.

We’ll have further coverage of the match here on the UFWC website. And you can keep up to date with all things UFWC by following us on Twitter or Facebook. How are Scotland all-time unofficial champions? Read more here, or check out the brand new UFWC book.

New for 2018, the latest edition of the official UFWC book, Unofficial Football World Champions by Paul Brown, is out now. This is the fourth edition of the book that has been published in every World Cup year since 2006.
Expanded and updated to include new matches, teams, players and statistics, it’s a complete guide to the UFWC, including all 936 title matches played since 1872, and all 48 unofficial football world champions.
It’s available exclusively from Amazon stores worldwide, priced at £9.99 or $13.95 – click here.

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.