England aren’t the ‘Unofficial World Champions’, Japan are – and North Korea could be next

englan 300x225 England arent the Unofficial World Champions, Japan are – and North Korea could be next

England may celebrate victory over Spain, but they cannot be crowned Unofficial World Champions

After the resolute England victory over Spain on Saturday, many in the press and on Twitter suggested that England had become ‘Unofficial World Champions’ (UWC) after defeating the official world champions and World Cup holders at Wembley.

Albeit unscientific, the premise of the UWC title is that when a world champion plays anyone else, whether it be a friendly or competitive match, they put their world champion status on the line. Should they lose, the title passes to the victor, who in turn has to defend the title whenever they play.

The UWC honour is designed to bring added spice to often meaningless international matches, and has even inspired a whole website dedicated to these play-along contests.

Yet despite England’s impressive victory over Spain, Fabio Capello’s men cannot be crowned Unofficial World Champions as the title was not Spain’s to lose. La Roja were actually knocked off their perch only a couple of months after the 2010 World Cup when they were beaten by Argentina 4-1.

The Argies could only hold on to the title for a month, relinquishing it against Japan, who beat them 1-0.

Since then, Japan have gone over 12 months and 16 matches undefeated, meaning that, actually, Japan are the current ‘Unofficial World Champions’, and not England as many thought.

The surprise outcome on Saturday led to people on Twitter clarifying the situation, including the official account of UWFC when they said “New Post: Sorry England, but Japan are Unofficial Football World Champs”.

The last time England actually held the UWC title was in June 2000 when they beat Germany 1-0 in the European Championships in Charleroi.

Japan will put their title on the line tomorrow night when they play North Korea in a 2014 World Cup qualifier. Should the Koreans win the game, they would be the unlikely holders of the title. In the next two games after Japan, the reclusive Koreans face Bahrain and Tajikistan. Should either of these countries claim the title, then perhaps questions will have to be asked about the validity of the ‘Unofficial World Champions’ honour (if they weren’t being asked already).

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  • kgquantum

    Excellent piece – but a few questions…when did the UWC first become an ‘unofficial title’?? Surely when Spain won the 2010 World Cup, the UWC was not theirs to claim?? Presumably, it was in the hands of someone else?? Some clarity needed to find the first World Champions (presumably Uruguay in 1930) and then follow the chain through to modern day!!!

  • henry hunter

    North Korea just beat Japan 1-0,so they are now “Unofficial World Champions” 

  • paul

    The Netherlands held the unofficial title before Spain, and the UFWC goes back beyond the first world cup in 1930 to the first ever international match in 1872. It’s all listed at the UFWC website on which this article is based: 

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