Doubts have surfaced over the eligibility of the Peru v Scotland UFWC title match, which will be played tomorrow, 29 May, at the Estadio Nacional del Peru in Lima. Scotland will field an understrength team, and there have been suggestions that the game will not therefore be considered an international ‘A’ match. An ‘A’ match is a game in which both countries field their first national representative teams. Only ‘A’ matches can be UFWC title matches. So will this match between the reigning unofficial champions and the all-time unofficial champs be a UFWC title match?

As previously reported, Scotland manager Alex McLeish has only 21 players to call upon following a series of injuries and withdrawals. Stuart Armstrong, John Souttar, Allan McGregor, Barry Douglas, Matt Ritchie and Ryan Fraser have joined Craig Gordon, Callum McGregor, Kieran Tierney and James McArthur in pulling out of the squad. Several players have been withdrawn at the request of their clubs, causing McLeish to call on FIFA to change the rules regarding the enforcement of call-ups. In addition, Liverpool’s Andy Robertson and Fulham’s Tom Cairney and Kevin McDonald are absent due to the recent Champions League final and Championship play-off final. Only two members of the squad have more ten caps, and all three goalkeepers are uncapped. But McLeish has said there is a “golden incentive” for his fringe players to embrace this opportunity to play for their country.

Peru are missing Paolo Guerrero following the extension of his suspension. But otherwise manager Ricardo Gareca will be looking to nail down his first-choice team selection ahead of the World Cup. So we can expect the reigning Unofficial Football World Champions to field a strong team. But will they get the chance to defend the UFWC title?

The UFWC rules state that a UFWC title match is any international ‘A’ match involving the current UFWC title-holder. According to FIFA, “an international ‘A’ match shall be a match that has been arranged between two national A associations affiliated to the Federation and for which both Associations field their first national representative team.” This includes most friendly matches. We know that Peru will field their first team in preparation for the World Cup. But will the team Scotland fields count as “their first national representative team”?

To be fair to Alex McLeish and the Scottish Football Association, they will be picking their best available team. Previous classification rows have generally involved nations feeding B-teams or under-23 teams, and that is not the case here. Scotland will be playing an A-team – albeit one with many absences. At the time of writing, Peru v Scotland is NOT listed as an ‘A’ match on the FIFA website. FIFA may not make a decision on categorisation until after the game, when the team line-ups have been assessed.

However, the UFWC rules do not state that a UFWC title match must be considered an ‘A’ match by FIFA. As long as a match meets the definition for an ‘A’ match – “a match that has been arranged between two national A associations affiliated to the Federation and for which both Associations field their first national representative team” – it would be eligible to be a UFWC title match, regardless of FIFA classification. Therefore, unless something changes over the next 24 hours or so, Peru v Scotland WILL be a UFWC title match.

The uncertainty over team selection makes our usual presenting of football betting tips somewhat more complicated, although Peru are still huge favourites. La Blanquirroja have been Unofficial Football World Champions since August 2017, and their unbeaten UFWC run has stretched for eight games, including five wins. Outside of the UFWC, Peru haven’t lost a football match since 2016. It’s no surprise that Peru are 1/3 odds-on favourites to win in the betting, while Scotland are 12/1 outsiders. The unfamiliarity of the Scottish team adds an element of chance to any bet here, so in a three-horse race between Peru, Scotland and a draw, 12/1 might tempt some optimistic gamblers.

Scotland, of course, are the all-time Unofficial Football World Champions, according to the UFWC rankings table, and Scottish fans will believe they always have a chance in this competition. They top the table, ahead of second-placed England, because of their dominance of international football in the years that preceded the first World Cup. The Scots’ history in the tournament goes all the way back to the very first UFWC title match in 1872. They’ve won 86 UFWC title matches, compared to England’s 73 and third-placed Argentina’s 62. Peru are 16th in the rankings table with 16 title match wins.

Peru v Scotland kicks of at 20:00 on 29 May local time, which is 02:00 on 30 May in the UK. (Scotland fans will be able to watch the match live on BBC One.) If Peru win, the next UFWC title match will be their game against Saudi Arabia, in St Gallen, Switzerland, on 3 June. Saudi Arabia have played in five previous title matches, but have never won one. If Scotland win, the all-time champions will become the current champions, and the next title match will see them play Mexico on 3 June.

We’ll have full coverage 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.

UPDATE: The Peru v Scotland match has now been added to the FIFA website, indicating that FIFA do now categorise it as an international ‘A’ match.

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.

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