North Korea, World Soccer Champions

Most soccer standings agree as to which national team is the best in the world. Paul Brown doesn't.
Share |

Spain, winner of the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 European Championship, and No. 1 in both the FIFA World Ranking and the World Football Elo Ratings, is the consensus best soccer team on the planet. Vicente Del Bosque's side, which features the magical playmaking of Xavi and Andres Iniesta, holds nearly every international trophy of note. Spain is the only logical choice for current world champion.

Unless your name is Paul Brown. The football writer argues that North Korea can stake at least a claim to the throne, and he makes a compelling—or at least compellingly weird—case. 

In 2003, Brown took a simple idea he heard floating around and made it a reality: What if someone tracked every game—starting with the first international fixture between England and Scotland in 1872—and created a boxing-style tournament with a single championship on the line? The first match was a 0-0 draw (soccer haters: snicker here) but England defeated Scotland 4-2 on March 8, 1873, taking the fictitious championship belt. They lost the honor less than a year later when Scotland prevailed 2-1 in Glasgow.

Brown continued his quest to find the true champion of international football and wrote up the results in an article for FourFourTwo. The answer he found nearly a decade ago surprised him: Angola. It was so shocking, in fact, that he decided to start a website dedicated to the endeavor. The formal Unofficial Football World Championship was born. Brown began highlighting specific games, both well-known ones like the United States' 1-0 victory over England in the 1950 World Cup, and games no one would otherwise care about such as a friendly between Israel and Russia in Haifa on February 23, 2000. The UFWC gave some of these games a point, even if only a few people understood the stakes. "You throw the Unofficial World Championship into the mix, and obviously it's tongue and cheek, but from a spectator's point of view it throws a little bit of interest in there," Brown says. 

The website gained traction with a small subset of football fanatics, a fact Brown reports with a tone suggesting he would be surprised by this if he weren't one of them. The effort spawned a book, which delves deeper into the history, highlighting more matches and fixing earlier errors. "FIFA's records aren't always correct, especially in the early years. The records can be patchy," Brown says. "Over the years, we've found some games that changed chronology slightly, but luckily, it always seems to right itself within a couple of matches. As it stands at the moment, I'm pretty confident that the results that we have on the website are not going to change."

Those results have Scotland at the top of the all-time Unofficial Football World Championship ranking with 86 title match defenses. It's an honor to which the Scots, also-rans in the current footballing universe, have attached themselves. "It's the only thing that Scotland has ever won in international football," Brown says. "Scottish fans have really taken to that."

England (73 title defenses), Argentina (51), the Netherlands (49), and Russia (41) round out the top five. The United States sits tied with Georgia and Portugal for 38th place on two title defenses, one more than Mexico but three behind CONCACAF minnow Costa Rica. According to UFWC lore, titleholders receive an emailed image of the CW Alcock Cup, named for Charles William Alcock, the secretary of the English Football Association who organized the first match between England and Scotland. The UFWC is currently seeking a sponsor to create a physical version of the trophy.

The UFWC is one of those quirky ideas that increasingly move from the mind of some impassioned soul to the greater collective conscious. The Internet gave Brown the perfect platform to tinker while simultaneously allowing other fans to fact-check his work and add their own suggestions. It gives meaning to games that don't matter, all across the world. 

"Japan was the champion [in 2010 and 2011]," Brown says. "The UFWC went massive in newspapers and websites there. A Japanese publisher republished my book in Japanese and it's sold more in Japan than it has in the rest of the world. We're still talking a relatively small number, but it shows that Japanese fans really jumped on board with the prospect of winning something when otherwise they wouldn’t have a chance."

Which bring us back to North Korea. 

The Chollima, ranked No. 81 in the world by FIFA, officially ascended to the unofficial top spot with a 1-0 victory over Japan in Pyongyang on November 15, 2011. They have defended the title 12 times since then, most recently defeating Hong Kong 4-0 in the semifinal of the EAFF East Asia Cup. But it was a game against the Philippines on March 9, 2012 that showed the potential reach of the UFWC in the age of social media. 

"It seems that the majority of the Philippines players are on Twitter. They got really invested in it. There was quite a big build up to the match on Twitter. And then they lost. They didn't become Unofficial World Champions," Brown says. "That's the nearest we've gotten to knowing that players know what is up for grabs. Unfortunately, they couldn't take advantage."

North Korea retained the title after defeating the Philippines 2-0. They don't play again until 2013, so it will be theirs for at least another few months and likely more after that, as they generally play inferior competition. Being unofficial champions of the football world doesn't have the same ring as FIFA No. 1. Still, it's not hard to imagine Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un using the title for propaganda purposes, provided he has sufficient wireless capacity. If only someone would tell him such a tournament exists.


Share |

Comments

i find it very interesting and very well thought out and put together. buy postcards online

I found this is an informative and interesting post so i think so it is very useful and knowledgeable. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article...1 Color Envelopes at Printing VIP

I found this is an informative and interesting post so i think so it is very useful and knowledgeable. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article...NCR Forms at Printing VIP

If more people that write articles really concerned themselves with writing great content like you, more readers would be interested in their writings...increase website traffic

If more people that write articles really concerned themselves with writing great content like you, more readers would be interested in their writings...buy traffic hits

Your articles are very well written and unique.
short term payday loans

Dip the tips of your fingers into water. Lift the edges of the bread dough so that they meet at the top and enclose the filling. Pinch to close the opening. The seam may remain at the top as it will be covered with cookie dough....search optimizaion services for business

I'd be trampled if all sites gave articles like these awesome articles. los angeles emergency plumbing

You got guys not knowing what play is being run, Larry Drew isn't drawing anything, and you got a bunch of different guys talking at once.. packers and movers pune rates

I got this link & reached at this blog, I turned into fresh and also joyful too.. movers and packers pune

i find it very interesting and very well thought out and put together. I look forward to reading your work in the future.. app empire

Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon. Rocket Languages PDF

Brandrr is a new powerful web based software that allows its users to create beautiful eye catching logos within minutes. This revolutionary product app will save you money and time. You wont have to pay designers hundreds of dollars and wait days for them to make you a logo. The app is also on the cloud so you can access the software while you're on the go from any electronic device.review brandrr

I’m trampled by your contents carry on the wonderful work. halal

I have spent a lot of the time in different blogs but this is really a unique blog for me.
cash now loans

Hurrah, that’s what I was trying to get for, just what a stuff Presented at this blog!! Thanks admin of the site. Seriously Trademarks.com.au

I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often... helpful site

I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often... Look At This

I really enjoyed reading on this article. I hope that other readers will also experience how I feel after reading your article. Thank you so much....affordable seo services

This is really an excellent blog as well as its content. adrespark bonus

I wrote about a similar issue, I give you the link to my site. Manifestation Miracle

An unbelievable blog. This blog will indisputably be definitely recommended to my friends as well.m9d

I really enjoy simply reading all of your weblogs. Simply wanted to inform you that you have people like me who appreciate your work. Definitely a great post. Hats off to you! The information that you have provided is very helpful. Risk of Hemorrhoids Removal at Home

Nice answers in replace of the question with real point of view and explaining about that.discount insurance rate

I am very happy to read this article .. thanks for giving us go through info.Fantastic nice. I appreciate this post. Title Agency

Writing only comments will close the discussion straight away! And will restrict the benefits from this information
royalty free pictures https://www.hirerush.com/AZ:Phoenix/service/window-cleaning

I sent your articles links to all my contacts and they all adore it including me. cash now loans

This is a wonderful article, Given so much info in it, These type of articles keeps the users interest in the website, and keep on sharing more ... good luck. http://www.streetinsider.com/SI+Newswire/Red+Smoothie+Detox+Factor+Review+-+Does+It+Really+Work%3F/11232134.html

This is helpful, nonetheless it can be crucial so that you can check out the following website: locksmith hollywood fl

You throw the Unofficial World Championship into the mix, and obviously it's tongue and cheek, but from a spectator's point of view it throws a little bit of interest in there," Brown says.
Take Breast Cancer Off the Menu

I’m excited to uncover this page. I need to to thank you for ones time for this particularly fantastic read!! I definitely really liked every part of it and i also have you saved to fav to look at new information in your site.DUI Attorney

amount of water vapor present in a given volume of air to the amount required to reach saturation (condensation into droplets) at the same temperature mobile optin

I read few posts on this web site and I conceive that your blog is very interesting and has sets of fantastic information.
terminix pest control

Here are the perfected instructions on how to make melonpan, based on several recipes I found on the Internet and the iron chef..
pest control fresno ca

Warm the water to about 45 degrees Celsius and place in a bowl. Mix in dry yeast and sugar. Wait a few minutes until the yeast has activated, which causes fine foam to appear. Add salt, melted pest control services london

Really impressed! Everything is very open and very clear clarification of issues. It contains truly facts. Your website is very valuable. Thanks for sharing. INVESTING IN AMERICAN PRECIOUS METALS PRICES

Text deliver is the number one sms marketing platform out there. It has a 10x higher open rate than email. Check out textdeliverreviews.com for the latest text deliver reviews. We even have text deliver testimonials. Dont miss out on your chance in the biggest opportunity in marketing today. 
text deliver discount

Very useful post. This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. Really its great article. Keep it up. iphone repair san diego

Japanese snack food resembling little bread rolls. Western people might find them a little strange as they are a combination of sweet and non-sweet foodstuffs: bread wrapped in cookie with cream cheese filling. plastic surgery

Great post i must say and thanks for the information. Education is definitely a sticky subject. However, is still among the leading topics of our time. I appreciate your post and look forward to more.The Penguin method

I am very curious about this kind of dialogue. Such dialogue would be one very important thing. I’m curious what the title suggests. illuminazione led

Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Thank you, However I am encountering issues with your RSS. I don’t understand why I am unable to join it. Is there anybody getting identical RSS issues? Anyone that knows the answer can you kindly respond? Thanks!!that not how men work

This article has some vast and valuable information about this subject.
life insurance family plans

Your composing is purely awe-inspiring that I desired to read such high quality material...easy online payday loans

RISK FREE TRIAL OFFER! All new members registering during our Active Pre-Launch until January 3rd, 2016 will receive 1000 AD CREDITS and 10 REALTIME UNITS at NO CHARGE!zigzag

I conclude I have selected the smart and inconceivable website along with interesting stuff. Printing VIP

An unbelievable blog. This blog will indisputably be definitely recommended to my friends as well.mybkhelp.com

Thanks for writing such a good article, I stumbled onto your blog and read a few post. I like your style of writing... False Prophet

Please note that this is just impression of a gaijin who is not even sure if he has ever tasted genuine melonpan. Tradition infringements are bound to exist and apologies extended if necessary.
Plastic Surgery Scottsdale