Scots face Italians in battle of world champs

March 27, 2007

If Scotland beat Italy in Bari on Wednesday don’t be surprised if you start hearing that the Scots have become football’s undisputed world champions.

Italy are, of course, the World Cup holders after beating France in the final in Berlin last year. It is less well known that for some fans Scotland are the unofficial world champions after beating Georgia in their last game in Group B.

How on earth did they work that one out?

It is all admirably explained here, the official unofficial website and clearly home to some of the most obsessive statisticians in the business.

It goes like this. England became the first unofficial world champions back in 1873 when they beat Scotland in what was only the second full international match (the first had ended in a goalless draw the year before).

Since then, whenever the holders have faced another country in a full international, the winners have taken over the honorary title. After a route too convoluted to go down here, it passed to Georgia when they beat Uruguay last year and Scotland’s 2-1 win on Saturday saw them take over.

So does that make Wednesday’s date with Italy a world title unification bout?

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