Football in Uruguay

(Redirected from Uruguayan football)

Football in Uruguay stands as the most popular sport.[2] The Uruguay national football team has won two FIFA World Cup titles in addition to a record 15 Copa América titles, making them one of the most successful teams in South America. The national team won the first edition of the tournament in 1930, and won it again in 1950.

Football in Uruguay
A group of children playing football with the Estadio Centenario as background
Governing bodyUruguayan Football Association
National team(s)Uruguay
First played1881; 143 years ago (1881)[1]
National competitions
Club competitions
International competitions

Also, the Uruguay national football team won the Olympic Games twice, in 1924 Summer Olympics and 1928 as well as the Copa de Oro de Campeones Mundiales ("Mundialito") in 1980–81.


Managers and technical staff of the Central Uruguay Railway (CUR) at Peñarol station. Railway workers spread the practice of football in Uruguay

The sport was introduced by British immigrants and expatriates in the 19th century. Some references say that the game had been introduced in 1880, at the English High School by Henry Castle Ayre,[3] born in Bedminster in March 1852.[4]

The first recorded football match in Uruguay was played in 1881 between Montevideo Rowing Club (established in 1874) and Montevideo Cricket Club (1861),[1][5] while Albion F.C. –established in Montevideo in 1891– was the first football club in the country.[note 1]

CURCC was founded by British immigrants in 1891, being predecessor of current C.A. Peñarol

British football clubs tours over South America contributed to the spread and development of football in Uruguay during the first years of the 20th century. The first club to tour was Southampton in 1904, followed by several teams (mainly from England although some Scotland clubs also visited South America) until 1929 with Chelsea being the last team to tour.[8]

British teams were considered the best in the world by then, and some of them served as inspiration to establish football clubs in Uruguay and Argentina, helped by the immigration of British citizens that had arrived to work for British companies (mostly in railway construction). CURCC and Albion are some examples of clubs established by British immigrants to South America.[9][10]

Uruguay is a country with a population that does not exceed more than three and a half million,[11] and features a large concentration of professional football teams in the city of Montevideo. The two biggest club teams in the country's Primera División are Peñarol, the continuation of CURCC[note 2], and Nacional, founded in 1899 as a result of the fusion between Montevideo Football Club and Uruguay Athletic Club.

Club football

Club Nacional de Football was the first criollo team of Uruguay

Club football in Uruguay is dominated by two big Montevideo clubs, Peñarol and Nacional, which compete in the AUF Championships (Primera División).[13] Peñarol have won the tournament 51 times (including titles by its predecessor, CURRC) and Nacional 49 times, since it began in 1900. Other teams winning the league have been Danubio (4 times), Defensor Sporting (4 times), River Plate F.C. (4 times), Montevideo Wanderers (3 times), Rampla Juniors (1 time), Bella Vista (1 time), Progreso (1 time), Central Español (1 time). Also, during 1923 and 1924, there existed another Uruguayan football league, the FUF (Uruguayan Football Federation). Said league only held two tournaments, however, won by Atlético Wanderers and Peñarol.

Nacional and Peñarol have each won the Intercontinental Cup three times and have also been successful in South American competition, with Nacional having won the Copa Interamericana twice, the Recopa Sudamericana once, and Copa Libertadores thrice, and Peñarol having conquered Copa Libertadores five times. In 2011, Peñarol reached the finals before falling to Brazilian side Santos.

Matches between Peñarol and Nacional are termed the Uruguayan Clásico, the longest running football derby outside Great Britain.[citation needed]

Most other clubs in top division are also from Montevideo. In the 2015–16 Uruguayan Primera División season, only two clubs, Plaza Colonia and Juventud de Las Piedras, came from outside the capital. As of 2023, Colonia, Maldonado and Cerro Largo are the only departments that are represented in Uruguay's First Division.

Many Uruguayan footballers have been successful in European club football, including current players Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani and also retired players such as Diego Forlán. Forlán had a successful career in Spain with Atlético Madrid, where he won both the European Golden Shoe and Pichichi Trophy twice. Suárez has had a successful career in England (with Liverpool) and Spain (with Barcelona), where he won the European Golden Shoe twice and the Pichichi Trophy.

National team

Diego Forlán with the Uruguay national team, winner of the Golden Ball in the 2010 FIFA World Cup

The Uruguay national team have won more international tournaments than any other country. In the Copa América, they are the most successful team, having won 15 titles. Uruguay won the first FIFA World Cup in 1930, defeating fierce rivals Argentina in the final.[14][15] In 1950, they won their second World Cup, defeating Brazil in the Maracanã in the final.[16] They have also won two Olympic gold medals in 1924 and 1928.[17] Finally, they also won the 1980 Mundialito, a competition in Montevideo for all of the countries that had ever won the World Cup.

Between 1970 and 2010, they failed to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup[18] until 2010, when they finished fourth.

Remarkable players

  • Alcides Ghiggia – played in the 1950 World Cup, perhaps most remembered for having scored the second goal at the 34th minute of the second half in the tournament final against Brazil, known as the "Maracanazo".
  • Juan Alberto Schiaffino – widely regarded as the best player Uruguay has ever produced, and one of the best players in history of the game. He won the 1950 FIFA World Cup with his national team.
  • Luis Suárez – is the all-time top scorer for Uruguay where he won the 2011 Copa América. At club level he won 2 European Golden Shoe awards, and numerous trophies.

Women's national team


The women's football national team of the AUF started in 1996 and the first official competition of the national team took place in 1998. They have played against national teams of South America and teams of other continents. Their most remarkable matches were against teams such as Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, and China. They have never participated in a World cup, but they have participated in the Southamerican championship. This team consists of players aged 16 to 30 years. Its more recent games were against Brazil, on March 8, Colombia on March 10 and Venezuela on March 12, all in the same year.

Other notable Primera División teams


Danubio Football Club is a club of professional football of the Montevieo-Uruguay. It was founded on March 1, 1932 and it plays in the First Division. It obtained four Uruguayan Championships at the First Division in 1988, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2013 and 2014. At international competitions it reached the semi-final in the Copa Libertadores in 1989. In addition to that, according to the IFFHS Danubio is the third best Uruguayan club of the 20th century, just behind the two big Uruguayan teams. Its debut was in the Plaza de deportes en La Unión, which finished with a defeat scoring 1-0, but they did not give up themselves and it managed to turn itself a great club of the Uruguayan football. The team has 17 national titles and 17 official?. Its stadium was inaugurated on August 25, 1957.

Another notable first division team is Defensor Sporting Club, a professional club of Montevideo, Uruguay. It won four Uruguayan Championships, in 1976, 1987, 1991 and 2007-08. At international competitions it reached the semi-final in the Copa Libertadores in 2014. In addition to that, according to the IFFHS, Defensor Sporting was the best club of the world during September 2007.

List by capacity


The following is a list of football stadiums in Uruguay, ordered by capacity.

Largest football stadiums in Uruguay

# Stadium Capacity City Home team(s)
1 Estadio Centenario 60,235 Montevideo Uruguay
2 Estadio Campeón del Siglo 40,000 Montevideo Club Atlético Peñarol
3 Estadio Gran Parque Central 34,000 Montevideo Club Nacional de Football
4 Estadio Atilio Paiva Olivera 27,135 Rivera Selección de fútbol de Rivera
5 Estadio Luis Tróccoli 25,000 Montevideo CA Cerro
6 Estadio Parque Artigas 25,000 Paysandú Paysandú Bella Vista and Paysandú F.C.
7 Estadio Domingo Burgueño 22,000 Maldonado Deportivo Maldonado
8 Estadio Luis Franzini 18,000 Montevideo Defensor Sporting
9 Estadio José Nasazzi 15,000 Montevideo Club Atlético Bella Vista
10 Estadio Charrúa 14,000 Montevideo Uruguay (alternative stadium)
11 Estadio Goyenola 12,000 Tacuarembó Tacuarembó FC
12 Estadio Parque Artigas Las Piedras 12,000 Las Piedras Juventud LP
13 Jardines del Hipódromo 11,018 Montevideo Danubio
14 Estadio Viera 11,000 Montevideo Montevideo Wanderers FC
15 Estadio Belvedere 10,000 Montevideo Liverpool FC
16 Estadio Parque Capurro 10,000 Montevideo Fénix

See also



  1. ^ Another source states that Albion F.C. was founded by an English teacher at the William Leslie Poole School in 1882.[6][7]
  2. ^ Controversy exists on the date of the founding of C.A. Peñarol. The club's official position assumes a change of name of CURCC (founded on September 28, 1891). On the other hand, some historians state that "C.A. Peñarol" was established on December 13, 1913.[12]


  1. ^ a b Diego Forlán: "Montevideo es un campo de fútbol gigante" by Fabián Torres and Juan Castro,, 22 Jan 2017
  2. ^ "Uruguay, soccer crazy nation – The Herald". Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  3. ^ "Sobre la fundación de Nacional — Carta del Sr. Sebastián Puppo, primer Presidente del Club" (in Spanish). January 21, 1919. Archived from the original on 25 March 2003. Retrieved 19 June 2017 – via
  4. ^ "FreeBMD District Info". Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  5. ^ HISTORIA DEL MVCC on MVCC website
  6. ^ Football: The first Hundred Years. The Untold Story. Adrian Harvey. Routledge 2005
  7. ^ Steen, Rob; Novick, Jed; Richards, Huw (4 July 2013). The Cambridge Companion to Football. p. 33. ISBN 9781107014848. Retrieved 2017-03-04.
  8. ^ South American Trip of Chelsea FC 1929 by Pablo Ciullini on RSSSF
  9. ^ Historia del Fútbol Amateur en la Argentina, by Jorge Iwanczuk. Published by Autores Editores (1992) - ISBN 9504343848
  10. ^ Plaza Jewell, el club donde nació el deporte rosarino, cumple hoy 145 años, La Capital, 27 Mar 2012
  11. ^ "UNdata - country profile - Uruguay". Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  12. ^ Discusiones por el decanato on Fú, 29 Sep 2009
  13. ^ "Exploring Uruguay, the world's most successful footballing nation". 7 July 2016. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  14. ^ Felipe Arocena; Kirk Bowman (5 August 2014). Lessons from Latin America: Innovations in Politics, Culture, and Development. p. 169. ISBN 9781442605497. Retrieved 2017-03-04.
  15. ^ Williams, Richard (5 July 2010). "World Cup 2010: Uruguay is a small nation with a great football history". Retrieved 4 March 2017 – via The Guardian.
  16. ^ "How did Uruguay lose status as world's best?". 11 March 2013. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  17. ^ "Football's Greatest Rivalries: Argentina v Uruguay". 31 December 2015. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  18. ^ Fletcher, Paul. Uruguay 1-1 Ghana (aet). BBC. 2 July 2010.