DESPITE being world ranked number seven and having Luis Suárez, one of the best goal scorers in the world right now in their ranks, history shows Uruguay won’t win this World Cup.
Because Uruguay go into the tournament as the reigning Unofficial Football World Champions (U.F.W.C.), and no nation has held this title going into a World Cup and won it.
The U.F.W.C. is international football’s equivalent of a boxing title belt. Argentina held the title before Uruguay beat them 3-2 in their final World Cup qualifier last October and have remained unbeaten ever since.
The Dutch came closest to breaking this anomaly in 1974 and 2010. They entered both tournaments as unofficial champions and reached the final unbeaten, only to succumb to West Germany and Spain respectively.
West Germany were unofficial champions going into Mexico ’86 but lost the title to Denmark in their last group game. The Danes were then beaten by Spain, who were then beaten by Belgium, who lost to eventual champions Argentina, who beat West Germany in the final.
The unofficial champions at the start of the World Cups in 1930 (England), 1934 (Wales), 1938 (Scotland), 1954 (Paraguay), 1970 (Switzerland), 1990 (Greece), 2002 (Netherlands) and 2006 (Uruguay) either didn’t enter or didn’t qualify for the finals.
Argentina entered Sweden ‘58 as champions but lost to reigning world champions West Germany in their opening match while wearing IFK Malmö’s kit. West Germany were beaten by hosts Sweden in the semi-finals, who in turn were rolled over by Brazil in the final.
Spain’s unofficial championship defence in Chile ’62 was ended by Czechoslovakia in their first match. Czechoslovakia lost to Mexico in their final group match. Mexico were eliminated despite winning.
France began Argentina ’78 as unofficial champions but were defeated by Italy in their opening match who held the crown until their final second round group match against the Netherlands, who lost to the hosts in the final for a second consecutive time.
Peru’s title defence at Spain ’82 lasted until their third match in a tight group where they were smashed by Poland in what was the only non-draw of the group. Poland succumbed to eventual winners Italy in the semi-finals, having played out a goalless drawn against them in their opening match.
Romania held the title when U.S.A. ’94 kicked-off but lost to Switzerland in their second group match, only for them to lose to Colombia in their next match. Colombia were eliminated in the group stage.
Uruguay’s first match of this World Cup is against Costa Rica, who last held the UFWC on 4th September 1963. Their second match is against England, who became the first title holder on 8th March 1873 and last held the title on 20th June 2000. Their last group match is against Italy, who last held the title on 22nd August 2007.
Should Uruguay reach the knock-out stage, the winner of the World Cup will also be the Unofficial Football World Champion.