The Free World Cup: What if the World Cup began in 1906?

Who do you think will win the 1906 World Cup?

  • Scotland

    Votes: 2 66.7%
  • Austria

    Votes: 1 33.3%
  • Argentina

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Denmark

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    3
  • Poll closed .
Here's a question for you all: While I do keep a list ready for which associations I'll add into FIFA every passing year... which regional associations would you want to see in this TL? I do keep track of regional associations that exist in OTL like the ones in ConIFA but if you have a particular region you want me to give a football team to (that doesn't have one or hasn't had one for many decades in OTL) I'd be happy to do it, as long as it makes sense.

Teams from actual sovereign states that are not affiliated with FIFA IRL, like Monaco, the Vatican City, and so on;

Teams from highly autonomous regions that could become affiliated with FIFA but haven't made the cut yet, like Greenland, et cetera;

Teams from regions whose football associations pre-date those of their country, like Madeira (Cristiano Ronaldo would play for them);

Teams from regions that, due to their autonomy, can be compared to the Home Nations in the UK, like the autonomous regions of Italy and the republics of Russia.
 
Teams from actual sovereign states that are not affiliated with FIFA IRL, like Monaco, the Vatican City, and so on;

Teams from highly autonomous regions that could become affiliated with FIFA but haven't made the cut yet, like Greenland, et cetera;

Teams from regions whose football associations pre-date those of their country, like Madeira (Cristiano Ronaldo would play for them);

Teams from regions that, due to their autonomy, can be compared to the Home Nations in the UK, like the autonomous regions of Italy and the republics of Russia.
These are all great ideas! I will have to wait some time to incorporate them, but they will be in FIFA eventually.
 
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1913 and 1914 – World Cup Qualifiers (Europe)

1913 and 1914 – World Cup Qualifiers (Europe)​

The following are the results of every qualifier group:

Group 1​

León 1-7 Belgium
Portugal 0-0 Romania
Scotland 8-0 León
Belgium 4-2 Romania
Portugal 1-2 Scotland
Romania 5-2 León
Scotland 4-0 Romania
Portugal 3-0 Belgium
Belgium 2-3 Scotland
León 4-4 Portugal
g1.png

Group 2​

Aragon 6-0 Isle of Man
Castile 8-1 Luxembourg
Bohemia 3-2 Aragon
Isle of Man 2-5 Luxembourg
Castile 2-2 Bohemia
Luxembourg 3-6 Aragon
Bohemia 14-0 Luxembourg
Castile 9-1 Isle of Man
Isle of Man 2-15 Bohemia
Aragon 0-0 Castile
g2.png

Group 3​

Cantabria 2-1 France
Croatia-Slavonia 7-0 Jersey
Wales 3-2 Cantabria
France 11-0 Jersey
Croatia-Slavonia 0-0 Wales
Jersey 1-6 Cantabria
Wales 8-2 Jersey
Croatia-Slavonia 3-3 France
France 2-0 Wales
Cantabria 4-2 Croatia-Slavonia
g3.png

Group 4​

Gibraltar 0-7 Italy
Basque Country 8-3 Malta
Netherlands 15-2 Gibraltar
Italy 0-0 Malta
Basque Country 0-3 Netherlands
Malta 2-1 Gibraltar
Netherlands 8-0 Malta
Basque Country 2-3 Italy
Italy 0-2 Netherlands
Gibraltar 0-21 Basque Country
g4.png

Group 5​

Catalonia 1-1 Hungary
Poland 12-0 Alderney
Sweden 1-5 Catalonia
Hungary 26-0 Alderney
Poland 4-1 Sweden
Alderney 0-34 Catalonia
Sweden 17-0 Alderney
Poland 3-3 Hungary
Hungary 6-2 Sweden
Catalonia 0-0 Poland
g5.png

Group 6​

Valencia 1-3 Germany
Galicia and Lodomeria 2-0 Jutland
Austria 2-2 Valencia
Germany 0-1 Jutland
Galicia and Lodomeria 4-2 Austria
Jutland 5-1 Valencia
Austria 3-2 Jutland
Galicia and Lodomeria 0-7 Germany
Germany 0-0 Austria
Valencia 3-1 Galicia and Lodomeria
g6.png

Group 7​

Galicia 0-5 Norway
Iceland 1-15 Russia
Switzerland 8-0 Galicia
Norway 2-2 Russia
Iceland 0-9 Switzerland
Russia 1-1 Galicia
Switzerland 5-0 Russia
Iceland 0-2 Norway
Norway 0-4 Switzerland
Galicia 3-0 Iceland
g7.png

Group 8​

Andalusia 1-1 Finland
Guernsey 2-17 Ireland
Finland 16-0 Guernsey
Andalusia 3-1 Ireland
Ireland 2-4 Finland
Andalusia 13-0 Guernsey
g8.png

2nd place rankings​

2nd.png

The European qualifiers went by without a hitch. For the first time, goal average was used to break ties instead of replaying matches. These qualification matches were quite popular compared to the previous Cup’s qualifiers, as they had many more competitive groups and surprises. They also had many new records, including the most goals in an international match (Catalonia scoring 34 against Alderney, beating the Isle of Man's previous record against the same team by 1 goal). Cantabria's victory was seen as the most surprising of them all, beating out previous World Cup teams France and Wales. Austria and Sweden performed far worse than they once had and completely failed to qualify.

While there were a lot of praises for the qualifiers, there were a few criticisms, like certain teams (most commonly Alderney (which conceded 89 goals in 4 matches), Guernsey, Jersey, Gibraltar and Iceland) being extremely bad and free points for the teams that had to face them, while more competitive groups (such as Group 6, with only a 2 point difference between 1st place Germany and 5th place Valencia) struggled to get above the rest. Woolfall and FIFA assured people that this was a quirk of the introduction of the new system, and it would be ironed out by the next World Cup in 1918.
 
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1913 and 1914 – World Cup Qualifiers (Americas and the Rest of the World)

1913 and 1914 – World Cup Qualifiers (Americas and the Rest of the World)​

Group 9​

Barbados 0-9 Rio de Janeiro
Quebec 1-2 Bahia
Argentina 14-0 Barbados
Rio de Janeiro 2-2 Bahia
Quebec 1-1 Argentina
Bahia 5-1 Barbados
Argentina 6-0 Bahia
Quebec 2-0 Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro 0-0 Argentina
Barbados 1-5 Quebec
g9.png

Group 10​

Jamaica 1-1 São Paulo
Chile 6-1 Trinidad and Tobago
São Paulo 4-3 Chile
Jamaica 2-0 Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago 0-9 São Paulo
Jamaica 1-1 Chile
g10.png

Group 11​

British Guiana 0-7 Canada
Paraguay 2-3 Uruguay
Canada 4-0 Paraguay
British Guiana 1-12 Uruguay
Uruguay 1-4 Canada
British Guiana 0-6 Paraguay
g11.png

Group 12​

Haiti 1-5 United States
Pará 2-2 Mexico
United States 4-2 Pará
Haiti 1-9 Mexico
Mexico 1-2 United States
Haiti 0-0 Pará
g12.png

While, as expected, only Pot A teams qualified to the World Cup, there were 2 teams in particular that surprised everyone: Quebec and Jamaica. Their second-place finishes destroyed expectations as Rio de Janeiro severely underperformed and ended up 4th, while Chile's overconfidence got the better of them and they ended 3rd.

Half 1​

h1.png

Half 2​

h2.png

While the results of the first half weren't surprising, the results of the second half were; Bengal had beaten South Africa and became the second Asian team to qualify for the World Cup.

The qualifiers had ensured that this next World Cup would be very interesting, with a few returning veterans and a bunch of newcomers. FIFA was hopeful that the quality of the matches would be far superior to the previous World Cup, and that no incidents could stop it. While audiences were smaller in Denmark, many Europeans and people from around the world would travel to go see the tournament.
 
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The 1914 Denmark World Cup of Football – Round of 16

The 1914 Denmark World Cup of Football – Round of 16​

And so, it was time for the World Cup once again. Crowds were not as large as they were in England, but they were still sizeable, with large proportions of non-Danish fans who had travelled to see their teams duke it out in the most prestigious footballing competition in the world. The draw’s prerequisite this time was that no neighbouring nations would be paired up, and, as always, that the hosts would get the top seed. These were the results of the draw:
1914r16.png

This time, nearly every match looked like a toss-up. The qualifiers had done wonders at showing how teams could truly handle international competition and not just competition against their neighbours. The most hyped-up match was the Netherlands vs. Scotland, two great teams facing each other in the first round.

The opening match was Denmark vs. Andalusia. As always, the hosts made quick work of the opposing team, scoring 2 goals in the first half. The Andalusians put up a valiant effort, with one shot in particular hitting the upper left corner of the goalposts and bouncing along the line, but the ball never went through and was thrown away by the goalkeeper. Denmark scored another in the second half and buried Andalusia’s World Cup dreams.

Up next was Germany against New South Wales. This was a heated match, and the Germans’ first experience against the Australians, which played a much more different and tactical game compared to them. The Germans had used an incredibly strange 8-2 formation with no midfielders; the reason for this is unknown to this day, but it worked in deflecting many shots from the New South Welshmen. However, they let 2 of them pass, and could only retaliate with one goal in the second half, sepulting their chances of going forward, and a victory for NSW.

Newcomers Cantabria would face Switzerland next. The Swiss were hungry for a World Cup victory, having been knocked out in the first round twice in a row. They gave the Cantabrians a hard time, scoring 3 goals in the first half leaving them hopeless. However, the Cantabria side suddenly had a burst of energy and scored 2 goals in 10 minutes, but the Swiss instantly fell into a defensive position and would not let any shots even be on target. Next thing they knew, it was the end of the match, and the Swiss had finally gotten their first World Cup triumph.

Argentina was to face Catalonia in the next match. The Catalans were confident in their ability to succeed, as they had gone up against Hungary and Sweden previously and won out over both in their group, but they were given a wake-up call when the Argentines began decimating them with 3 goals in the first half. They were utterly hopeless and watched as 2 more goals went right past them and they could barely get the ball in their possession at midfield. The referee blew his whistle, and Argentina once again found itself in the quarter-finals.

Favourites the United States squared up against Bohemia. Bohemia as a team at this point was considered “decent”: good enough to qualify for the World Cup, but not good enough to get any meaningful results. And they showed it on the pitch that day; the United States wrecked them 4 goals to 1, with Bohemia’s only goal coming from a penalty. The lack of crowd support did not help, as many Americans had come to watch the World Cup while relatively few Bohemians did.

And then came the most exciting match of the first round: the Netherlands against previous World Champions Scotland. Scotland’s winning squad in 1906 had mostly retired at this point, so the Scottish did not have the same confidence nor the same violent playstyle that subdued teams in the past. However, they were still a formidable force, and, with England still suspended, became the representatives for the United Kingdom on the world stage. The Netherlands would not go down so easily, though. The two teams kicked the ball back-and-forth with horrendous misses on both sides, and the match had to go into overtime as the scoreline was 0-0 by the 90th minute. After 36 gruelling minutes, the exhausted Dutch side relented and let a goal go past, allowing Scotland to advance to the next round.

São Paulo had to face newcomers Bengal. It was clear that Bengal had never gone up against a real World Cup team before, and it showed. São Paulo knocked them into submission with 2 goals, but the Bengalese took their time to learn the Paulista playstyle and adapt, equalizing them before the end of the first half. On the second half, the Paulistas went into overdrive, with fouls left and right and a goalkeeper that deflected 3 penalties against the Bengalese. São Paulo managed to score 2 more goals and secured their place in the quarter-finals.

The final match of the round of 16 was Canada, THE favourites to win, versus Hungary. Unexpectedly, the Hungarians switched up their usual attacking formation for a far more defensive one, which sent the Canadians for a spin and hampered their ability to score goals. Hungary’s defensive strategy ended up being their detriment, as all of the few attacks they sent out were quashed before they could even reach the goal. Eventually, a Canadian player weaved his way around the Hungarian defence and managed to score a goal in the 87th minute, ending the match 1-0 and ending Hungary’s run.

May 21st had ended, and the bracket now looked like this:
1914r16r.png
 
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The 1914 Denmark World Cup of Football – Quarter-finals

The 1914 Denmark World Cup of Football – Quarter-finals​

4 days went by as quickly as they could, and it was the 25th of May once again. Many had noticed that, for the first time ever, non-European teams outnumbered European teams in the quarter-finals. Many saw this as a sign that football was slowly but surely improving all around the world, and that Europe, its antiquated tactics and elitist nature had to catch up to the modern day.

The first match was contested between hosts and World Champions Denmark and New South Wales. The hosts once again showed their football superiority by running circles around the New South Welshmen, knocking them out of the competition with 4 goals and no chance for recovery for the Australians. The second half of the game was of interest to many football historians: it is said that one New South Wales player simply went up and left the pitch without being noticed by anyone and without anyone realizing that it had happened. Said player never returned home and was never seen again, until, 5 years later, he signed up for Danish team Aarhus Gymnastikforening and began playing for them.

Then there was Switzerland vs. Argentina. The Swiss were out for blood, especially now that they were facing the team that had knocked them out in the previous World Cup. The “boring Swiss football” was not present here; instead, Switzerland played an aggressive attacking game, which the Argentines were not prepared for and could not adapt to, letting 2 goals pass right through them as they were unable to score one themselves. Instead of falling back on the defence like usual, the Swiss kept attacking, but the Argentines had already grown accustomed to their strategies; however, they were unable to attack the goal in any real capacity for the entire second half, and Switzerland advanced to the semi-finals for the first time.

The United States and Scotland contested their place in the semi-finals, and it was quite the battle. 1-1 by the end of the first half, 2-2 by the end of the second half. The match would have to be determined in extra time, and this was an obscenely long extra time: 178 minutes, reminding Scottish fans of the extremely long extra time given to the 1906 final. Many fouls, penalties, close calls and arguments with the referee later, and the tie was finally broken by an extremely slow, pitiful goal by an American forward. Controversially, this goal was allowed to go in by the Scottish goalkeeper, who was collapsed on the ground, barely capable of moving. Thanks to this match, FIFA would begin to consider better tie-breaking measures that aren’t extra time and replays.

São Paulo and Canada had to face each other next, and this match shocked the world. Canada scored 1 goal in the first half, and it looked likely for the Paulistas to equalize the game. What happened in the second half was… unexpected. Canada went in and scored a goal a few seconds after the referee’s whistle blew, and began scoring goals like machines, as even the goalkeeper got in on the fun by going up to the opposing team’s goal and kicking a ball in when no-one was expecting it. The match ended 7-1, with a lot of angry Brazilians in the crowd and stunned Danish, thinking that they’d probably have to face them in the final.

After a very exciting day of football, these were the fixtures:
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The 1914 Denmark World Cup of Football – Semi-finals

The 1914 Denmark World Cup of Football – Semi-finals​

4 days later, and it was time for the semi-finals. No tragedies or incidents this time.

Denmark vs. Switzerland was an interesting match-up. Switzerland had gone on a miracle run to get to this point, brushing off the Cantabrians and the Argentines, and now had to face the Goliath that was Denmark. The Danish would get the drop on them by scoring in the 3rd minute, and keeping their lead for the entire first half. The Swiss had still led a fierce attack, for which the Danish were prepared for but still taken aback by it. During the second half, the Swiss broke through and scored an equalizer. The Swiss then scored again in the next minute… but this was annulled. The Swiss forward that had scored the goal had bumped into the referee and made him trip over and fall as he scored the goal. The Danish crowd breathed a sigh of relief as the Swiss, with their typical mild manners, grumbled to themselves and went right back to playing. The Danish got ahead with another goal and ended the match 2-1, advancing to the final once again.

And then came a very anticipated rematch: the United States vs. Canada. There was still a lot of animosity from the Olympics, and a very loud American crowd that had come to Denmark to cheer their team on. At the beginning, this match was looking to be one of the most boring of the entire tournament. It was clear neither side wanted to go on the initiative, as that could open up the defence and allow the other team to score. Therefore, a tug-of-war with the ball ensued, where it hung around the midfield as the Americans and Canadians kept taking it off of each other, unable to possess it for very long. Eventually, though, in the 38th minute, a Canadian midfielder broke the stalemate and scored a goal. It was expected that the Canadians would park the bus, but they kept attacking, as the Americans tried their hardest to push back. Now, instead of defending, both teams were attacking, which meant both defences were open wide. Both teams’ nets ate a ton of goals, and the final scoreline looked to be 7-7, until, at the very last minute, an American goal got through. The cheers of the American and the drunk Danish crowd thundered throughout the stadium, and the Canadians knew that was the time to go home. America had reached the final.

The much-anticipated fixtures had been set in stone:
sf.png
 
The 1914 Denmark World Cup of Football – 3rd Place Match and Final

The 1914 Denmark World Cup of Football – 3rd Place Match and Final​

The 3rd place match was surprisingly competitive this time around: Switzerland wanted to at least come out 3rd best during their miracle run, and Canada was looking to prove they were still among the best in the world despite not making it to the final. The Swiss were fierce, and got the upper hand by scoring in the 16th minute. The Canadians pushed back with 2 goals, and then the first half ended. During the second half, the exhaustion had set in: both sides were tired of the nerves and the footballing, so they let loose. There was an infamous illustration of what had happened during the match, where 2 Swiss players and 3 Canadian players briefly sat down and talked while other players were near the Swiss goal. Seconds after that moment, the Canadians scored another goal and cemented their 3rd place position.

And now, the final. Yet another rematch. Denmark, reigning World Champions, were looking to get revenge on the United States for knocking them out of the Olympic tournament, and also to prove that they were deserving of the title of World Champions, as they had obtained it dubiously in the previous World Cup. The United States, Olympic gold medallists, were looking to no longer be unofficial World Champions, but official, to win the most prestigious footballing competition in the world. There were a lot of stakes behind this match, and two very noisy crowds of fans that had gathered in Copenhagen to watch the match.

The referee blew his whistle, and the match began. Both sides were well aware of the other’s tactics, so the beginning of the match was slow, but there were a few hearty attacks, mostly from the Americans. The Danish began the storm by scoring a goal at 25’, and the Americans retaliated 10 minutes later with a long distance goal from the very centre of the field. Then at 41’, the United States scored another goal, and put themselves on top. The Danes spent the last 4 minutes repeatedly kicking the ball at the American goal, with the American defence completely hopeless at stopping their relentless attack, but the goalkeeper’s skill prevented any balls from going in.

Second half. The Danish started things off strong by scoring a goal at 50’, shocking the Americans, who thought they had victory in the bag. Then came the deadlock: America had experienced this before in the previous match, but the ball would just not leave the midfield. Out of frustration, an American player kicked the ball so hard it went out of the stadium and into the street outside, breaking the window of a nearby store. The Danes were also frustrated and began employing a Scotland-like strategy of constant fouling. By the 80th minute, both sides had had enough.

A goalkeeper grabbed the ball after a failed shot. He passed it onto a defender, who passed it to a midfielder. Neither forward was available, so the midfielder had to go at it alone. He went up to the goalkeeper, as the goalkeeper was ready to catch the ball if the midfielder were to try for goal. Then, the midfielder stomps his foot, and sends the ball flying in an arc over the goalkeeper’s head and into the goal.

Goal for America.

10 minutes pass with no serious attempts at goal.

The referee blows his whistle.

The United States are World Champions.
f.png
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Was football this crazy in it’s early years IRL? Either way, I’ve been enjoying this TL so far.
At times, yes. Completely inane scorelines were common during the pre-WW2 era (and for quite a while after), and pre-WW1 football was even crazier as many rules we have today didn't exist and a player could smoke and get drunk every night and still score a hat-trick on matchday.
 
The 1914 Denmark World Cup of Football – Aftermath

The 1914 Denmark World Cup of Football – Aftermath​

The immediate aftermath of the final came with the coronation of the United States of America as World Champions. The Danish crowds and team were dumbfounded. Sports journalists quickly began writing their match reports and imagining crazy headlines: EUROPE’S FOOTBALL CROWN TAKEN! AMERICA ARE WORLD CHAMPIONS! THE NEW AGE OF INTERNATIONAL FOOTBALL? As the Americans lifted the trophy, absolute euphoria was heard from the American crowds, which had grown in size since the start of the tournament.

The news quickly reached the rest of the world, as did the shock. It was the talk of the town for many days following the final, and everyone at FIFA was glad this World Cup went far better than last time, with much better football and many exciting matches.

However, this was 1914. June 1914. Gavrilo Princip would shoot Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria on June 28th, 1914. One month later, Austria-Hungary would declare war on Serbia. Russia would declare war on Austria-Hungary. Germany would declare war on Russia. A chain reaction would embroil all of Europe and their possessions in war. The world, and, most importantly, football, would never be the same again. FIFA immediately suspended all operations, and would remain dormant until the end of the war.
 
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1916 – The South American Championship & the Foundation of CONMEBOL

1916 – The South American Championship & the Foundation of CONMEBOL​

As the Great War was raging on in Europe, South America was going about its business as usual. In the year 1916, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Argentine independence, the Argentine Minister of Foreign Relations donated a trophy and handed invitations to the football associations of Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Bahia and Pará to hold a football tournament as part of the celebrations. All invited associations showed up to the tournament, and participated in the first ever official South American international footballing tournament in history.

The format of the tournament was two groups of 4 would all play against each other once, then the first-place teams of each group would advance to the final. Argentina won the first group while Uruguay won the second, and the Uruguayans beat the Argentines 2-0 in the final and took the trophy home. The tournament was considered a great success, and, as the tournament was going on, Montevideo Wanderers director Héctor Rivadavia Gómez saw his chance to realize a personal project of his: the creation of a South American football confederation. On July 9th, 1916, the 100 year anniversary date of Argentine independence, leaders from the 8 associations met in Buenos Aires to discuss the idea, and unanimously agreed via vote to create the organization. On the 5th of December of that same year, everything that was agreed on in the meeting was ratified in Montevideo, and the South American Football Confederation or CONMEBOL was born.
 
The Unofficial 1917-1918 Argentina World Cup of Football

The Unofficial 1917-1918 Argentina World Cup of Football​

By May 21st 1917, the date the next World Cup qualifiers were supposed to start, World War I was still very much raging on in Europe and other parts of the world. FIFA operations were still suspended, and fans from countries not in the war were getting restless for their World Cup fix. Seeing this, a wealthy Argentine entrepreneur decided to rent out many Buenos Aires stadiums and set up his own World Cup. He would gather many teams made up of immigrants living in Buenos Aires City and throughout Buenos Aires province, take a few shirts from Buenos Aires clubs and got a few flags sewn together, and borrowed the local league trophy. And thus, the unofficial 1918 World Cup of Football began.

The teams that are known to have participated were:
  • Albania [1]
  • Argentina
  • Austria
  • Basque Country
  • Belgium
  • Bohemia
  • Byelorussia [1]
  • Cape Verde [1]
  • Croatia
  • Denmark
  • England
  • France
  • Galicia
  • Germany
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Lithuania [1]
  • Macedonia [1]
  • Montenegro [1]
  • Netherlands
  • Poland [2]
  • Portugal
  • Russia
  • Scotland
  • Serbia [1]
  • Slovenia [1]
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Syria [1]
  • Turkey [1]
  • Ukraine [1]
  • United States
  • Uruguay [3]
[1] First ever representative team.
[2] Featured the first ever use of the modern Polish flag in international competition.
[3] Made up of sailors from Montevideo.

The 35-team tournament would be held throughout 1917 and 1918. Teams would all play each other once, and whoever came out on top would be crowned “World Champions”. The final games were played on 21 May 1918, the date when the 1918 World Cup was supposed to start. The exact results of every match are mostly unknown, and the placings below the top five are disputed. The following are the most agreed-upon placements:
  1. Argentina
  2. Belgium
  3. England
  4. Spain
  5. Italy
  6. Uruguay
  7. Scotland
  8. Switzerland
  9. Denmark
  10. Slovenia
  11. Sweden
  12. Hungary
  13. Basque Country
  14. Netherlands
  15. Ireland
There are no clear sources on the exact rankings of the bottom 20 teams. Due to the inexact nature of the results, and the fact that every team except Argentina was made up of immigrant workers, the tournament’s results are not recognized by FIFA, but the tournament itself is still honoured by the organization and seen as a part of international footballing history.
 
1918, 1919 and 1920 – The Return and Near-Collapse of FIFA

1918 and 1919– The Return and Near-Collapse of FIFA​

On 24 October 1918, Daniel Burley Woolfall passed away. FIFA went into a state of pure chaos, as nobody knew what to do. Many FIFA officials had died during the war, and so did a plurality of football players in Europe, with many others who survived the war unwilling to play due to either injury or personal choice. Cornelis August Wilhelm Hirschman, one of the founders of the Dutch Olympic Committee and General Secretary of FIFA, took over the organization, almost single-handedly keeping it from falling apart and at his own costs, operating from his offices in Amsterdam.

In 1919, he convened an assembly in Brussels. There were a lot of grievances from the football associations of Europe; many would not be able to field their best players due to them being dead or too unwell to play ever again. Allied nations objected to the continued inclusion of Central Powers nations in the organization, and nations not involved in the war were mad that they had no fixtures to play for 4 years and all of the matches that were played during that time remained unrecognized by FIFA. There was also the issue of what to do with players and teams from regions that changed nationality after the war: Galicia and Lodomeria had been mostly absorbed into Poland, Bohemia had become a part of Czechoslovakia, Austria and Hungary lost major pieces of land that prevented them from fielding players they previously could, Croatia-Slavonia had become a part of Yugoslavia, Germany had lost access to players from the many areas that they had lost, etc.

Further meetings managed to sort out the issues. Galicia and Lodomeria was expelled from FIFA for the time being and countries were only allowed to field players from their current territories. Bohemia would still represent the area of Bohemia as FIFA encouraged the newly formed Czechoslovakia to create associations for Moravia, the Sudetenland, Slovakia and Transcarpathia. Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, which had fully separated from Russia, were allowed into FIFA as the Russian Civil War was still raging on. Many other regional associations would begin to rise up during this time, especially in territories that changed hands after the war.

During this process, the following associations joined FIFA:
  • Bombay
  • Burma
  • Congo
  • Egypt
  • Estonia
  • Greece
  • Guatemala
  • Iran
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Madras
  • Newfoundland
  • Peru
  • Siam
  • Suriname
FIFA closed new applications until after the 1922 World Cup. During this time, they encouraged and tried foster the development of regional associations throughout the world.
 
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1920 – Football at the 1920 Antwerp Summer Olympics

1920 – Football at the 1920 Antwerp Summer Olympics​

The 1920 Olympics football tournament in Antwerp (and Brussels… and Ghent) was the first major footballing competition following the war. 16 teams had arrived to play, with Egypt and Greece debuting in international competition for the first time, and New Zealand and Japan officially playing against teams outside of Asia, Africa and/or Oceania for the first time.

The first match was hosts Belgium against Italy; Italy was no match for the Belgians, and lost 4-1. The next match was contested between New Zealand and Egypt, with New Zealand defeating Egypt 2-0. Luxembourg had to face Bohemia next, and was thrashed 11-0. Greece and Japan butted heads in the next match, and, unexpectedly, the Japanese won 2-0 over the Greeks. Norway vs. Canada was up next, and the Canadians scraped a 1-0 victory. The United States made quick work of the Netherlands 5-0, and so did a combined Great Britain team (this time featuring Englishmen along with the Scotsmen and the Welshmen, creating a full British team) against Sweden 6-1. Denmark beat France 2-1, and it was then time for the quarter-finals.

The quarter-finals began with an intense match between Belgium and New Zealand that ended 5-4 after extra time. Japan continued their miracle run against Bohemia, beating them 3-0. The United States and Canada faced each other once again, and the United States proved their superiority in the rivalry by beating the Canadians back 3-2. Danes and Englishmen squared up for the first time since the 1910 World Cup, but they were not up to par and lost 3-1, allowing Denmark to advance to the semi-finals.

In the semi-finals, Belgium put a stop to Japan’s miracle run 2-0, while a very anticipated rematch between the United States and Denmark took place. However, this rematch was a complete romp for the Americans as they defeated the Danish 4-1; Denmark had not sent their best players to the Olympics, while America had. In the 3rd place match, Denmark had to be content with taking the bronze medal as they defeated the exhausted but glad to have gotten that far Japanese 3-1. In the final, Belgium had to play yet another intense game against the United States, which ended 6-4 and the Americans kept their Olympic gold.

After this tournament, the United States had cemented itself as the single greatest team in the world. The Europeans, having been severely weakened by the Great War, could not catch up to the level of the Americas, and the rest of the world was beginning to give them trouble, as exemplified by New Zealand getting close to knocking out the hosts during the quarter-finals, and Japan reaching the semi-finals while knocking out the Greeks and the Bohemians.
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Manchester United, the owners of the stadium that collapsed, could not bear the weight of sanctions from FIFA, the FA and the British government all at once, and the club went into liquidation.

Sensible policies for a happier Britain... 👍
 
Was football this crazy in it’s early years IRL? Either way, I’ve been enjoying this TL so far.

There's a fairly famous screenshot that does the rounds on Twitter occasionally from the Boxing Day matches in the English 1st Division in the 1960s and the scores are absolutely mad to modern eyes - there's no 15+ scorelines but there were far more goals than you'd expect in the modern era (66 goals in ten matches) - probably helped by being from an era before Sports Science and a number of the players very probably playing either hungover or still actually pissed...

 
Was football this crazy in it’s early years IRL? Either way, I’ve been enjoying this TL so far.

There's a fairly famous screenshot that does the rounds on Twitter occasionally from the Boxing Day matches in the English 1st Division in the 1960s and the scores are absolutely mad to modern eyes - there's no 15+ scorelines but there were far more goals than you'd expect in the modern era (66 goals in ten matches) - probably helped by being from an era before Sports Science and a number of the players very probably playing either hungover or still actually pissed...

Also worth remembering that at this stage TTL football is still a growing sport internationally and some of the newcomers are going to get crushed (as a non-football example, compare how long it took the Bangladesh cricket team to become decent despite enormous popularity...)
 
Wonder what happens to American pro football in TTL, because soccer (as it is known in America) is going to be more popular, and the Great Depression will affect this...
 
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