World Cup

The Real World Champions

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You may not know this but now you do: Sunday's World Cup final is a unification contest to determine the Undisputed Champion of the World. This is the 19th World Cup Final but only the eighth that will unify the two halves of the footballing world championship.

How so? Well, the Netherlands are the current Unofficial Football World Champions, the holders of a bauble that stretches all the way back to the first international match ever played when Scotland and England battled to a 0-0 draw in Glasgow in 1872. The following year England's 4-2 victory in London made them the very first world champions. Since then the title has passed, boxing-style, from one country to another right up to the present day.

The Dutch claimed the title on the 19th of November 2008, when they defeated the previous holders Sweden, 3-1 in Amsterdam. They haven't lost a match since and, thus, are aiming to make a 22nd consecutive defense of the UFWC on Sunday. That will set a new record, surpassing the 21 games Scotland held the trophy for between 1880 and 1888. Another reason, obviously, to support Spain on Sunday.

I must say that the all-time UFWC table (countries receive one point for each successful defense of the trophy) is most pleasing and, surely, a fairer evaluation of 
contributions to the game than anything FIFA have yet devised:

1  SCOTLAND 86
2  ENGLAND 74
3  ARGENTINA 50
4  NETHERLANDS 49
5  RUSSIA 41
6  BRAZIL 29
7  GERMANY 27
7  ITALY 27
9  SWEDEN 26
10  FRANCE 25

Incidentally, the United States have held the trophy twice: first, though only for three days, after they beat England in 1950, the second for ten days and two matches in June 1992.

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