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If we were in the pub and the question was posed around who the best football team of all time was it would trigger a huge debate; after all, everyone is happy to talk about the highs of winning meaning there would be countless team names thrown into the hat from different eras. What people don’t talk about too often is getting thrashed or losing numerous games on the bounce. Here we aim to cut through all the spin and find the worst football team ever.
What makes a football team rubbish?
When you talk about the worst football team in the world, what does it actually mean? It’s hardly measurable. The worst Premier League team of all time would comfortably see off the worst team in the history of the English football league; it’s just different levels. What we’ll be looking for is instances of teams losing a vast number of games, where they’ve been haemorrhaging goals and any other times when there has been a continued lack of fight and general inability to play football.
The worst football team ever: International Candidates
As we’re looking for the worst football team in the world, we thought why not start out at the top. We all know there are some whipping boys in international football but just how bad have some nations been. Oh, and don’t worry England fans, we won’t mention Euro 2016 where your team were incapable of passing 10 yards as you were eliminated to Iceland; it wasn’t that embarrassing, their coach, Heimir Hallgrimsson, was only a part time dentist alongside running the national team.
Clearly, we weren’t going to get through this article without mentioning San Marino. Now, to be fair, the fact they even play against the big boys of world football is a tad farcical; their entire population is only 30k with the vast majority of their players amateurs. Come qualification campaigns, they face some of the biggest names in world football. Of course, it rarely ends well.
The nation played their first game back in 1986. Since that day, they’ve won just a solitary match – an average of 0.02 per year! In fact, if you want to delve deeper into their records, they’ve played 177 officially recognised fixtures winning one and drawing six. In that time they’ve scored 25 goals and shipped *gulp* 746. The high point of their existence came late last year. They recorded back to back goalless draws against the giant nations Liechtenstein and Gibraltar; it was the first time they’ve gone two games without defeat. Literal tears were shed; it’s all a little tragic, really.
San Marino might have an atrocious record but one thing you can say in their defence is that they’re very much a lamb to slaughter with the opposition they face. Outside of Europe there are national teams that pick up more wins than San Marino but only because of the sort of teams they play. Anguilla are a fantastic example of that. With 80 games under their belt, they have won 10% of their fixtures.
They’ve also been hit for 15 by Trinidad and Tobago though, which is their record defeat. It was hardly just a bad day at the office either; in June 2021 they fell to a 13-0 defeat at the hands of Panama. For context, San Marino’s record loss is 13-0 – to Germany. If Anguilla played San Marino, we’d have money on San Marino to win.
When you’re trying to find the worst football team in the world, you cannot ignore the nation that has suffered the worst international defeat in history. Step forward American Samoa. Now, let’s give this context. San Marino’s heaviest defeat is 13-0 and Anguilla’s is 15-0. Well, in 2002 World Cup qualifying American Samoa travelled to Coffs Harbour in Australia to face the Aussies; they lost the match – brace yourself – by 31 goals to nil. That’s right 31-0. THIRTY-ONE nil. If our pub team played the tiki-taka Barcelona side of the 2010 era we’d be licking our wounds from a result like that!
Remarkably, in spite of such a standout record defeat, American Samoa still have a win percentage of 7.8% from 51 matches. Their wins have come against Cook Islands, Wallis and Futuna and twice versus Tonga. It means they hold a win percentage vastly superior to San Marino but, again, it’s all about the opposition they face. Evidently, Anguilla and San Marino would approach a game with American Samoa in an extremely confident manner – that’s something that never happens.
The worst football team ever: Club Candidates
Now, we’ve seen what the international teams have served up. Surely though, club teams can’t be that bad? After all, they have the ability to sell and buy players meaning they can increase the talents of their squad much easier than international teams that are limited by those eligible. Well, as you’re about to find out, that isn’t necessarily the case,
Derby County, 2007/08
Are the Derby County side of 2007/08 the worst football team in the world? No, of course they’re not. They were playing in the Premier League meaning there would have been countless teams worse of than them in England let along the wider world. What we cannot allow to happen though is for the Rams to get off without suffering the ridicule that being the worst ever Premier League team deserves.
They started that season under Billy Davies; he’s the man most blame for the demise but he was sacked in November giving his replacement, Paul Jewell, plenty of time to turn the tide. He didn’t. When April 1st hit Derby were already a Championship team; their Premier League relegation had been mathematically confirmed a few days earlier making them the only club in Premier League history to have plummeted to relegation in March.
By the end of the season, their disgrace worsened. With just one win and eight draws (11 points), they had the worst ever record in the Premier League having scored the least and conceded the most goals ever. To cap it all off, their solitary win actually came early in the season meaning their winless run through to the end of the season is the longest streak recorded in the league’s history as well.
Ahh Brechin City. If you live in Britain, it’s quite possible you recall this story; it only happened in the 2017/18 season. Brechin City had arrived in the Scottish Championship after winning the League One playoffs the year before but rather than approach the new season with momentum and optimism the wheels well and truly fell off. Well, we say fell off. The performances Brechin turned in suggested they fell off, got punctured and were then kicked down a steep hill into a loch; Brechin City failed to win a single game that season. What’s worse is that they were the first team to do so in Scottish football for a whopping 126 years.
On top of not winning games, they didn’t draw many either. Their overall points haul makes Derby’s 11 look like an Everest scale climb; Brechin City managed to muster four points. That’s pathetic; most fans drink more pints than that during a game! Still, we can’t decide what’s more ridiculous; the fact they were one of the worst football teams we’ve seen, the fact one of their points was secured against promoted side Livingston or the fact the manager, Darren Dods, wasn’t sacked until a subsequent poor start in the following campaign.
Ibis Sports Club
It is highly plausible that you’ve never heard of Ibis Sports Club. It is nothing to be ashamed of; they ply their trade in Brazil’s sixth tier at the moment. We can pretty much guarantee you won’t forget them after reading this though because they are without doubt the worst football team in the world – ever. We’ve just looked at Brechin City who went a season without winning. Well, Club Ibis managed to go nearly four years without a victory; it’s a run that started in 1980 and didn’t end until three years and 11 months later!
Their run of not winning was confirmed by the Guinness Book of Records as the worst ever run of results; they’re not much better now. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration they do win the occasional match now but when they won three on the spin in 2017 it was the first time they’d done so in two decades! The fan reaction? A Brazilian carnival atmosphere? No. They were livid; being rubbish is the only thing that puts their club on the map. Who wants to follow a mediocre Brazilian sixth tier club?
There you have it, the worst football teams in the world.
PS – We might start a petition for Ibis Sports Club vs American Samoa to become an annual fixture. We bet you’d all tune in!