|Gold medal – first place
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The Uruguayan national football team represents Uruguay in international association football and is controlled by the Uruguayan Football Association, the governing body for football in Uruguay. The current head coach is Óscar Tabárez. The Uruguayan side is commonly referred to as La Celeste (The Sky Blue One) or Charrúas.
Uruguay are frequently South American champions, most recently having won the 2011 Copa América. Uruguay have won the Copa América a record 15 times. The team has twice won the FIFA World Cup, including the first World Cup in 1930 as hosts, defeating Argentina 4–2 in the final. They won their second title in 1950, upsetting hosts Brazil 2–1 in the final match, which received an attendance higher than any football match ever.
They have won the Gold Medals in football at the Summer Olympics twice, in 1924 and 1928, before the creation of the World Cup. Uruguay also won the 1980 Mundialito, a tournament among former World Cup champions. In total, Uruguay have won 20 official titles, a world record for the most international titles held by any country.
Their success is amplified by the fact that the nation has a very small population of around 3.25 million inhabitants (2011 est.). Uruguay is by far the smallest country in the world to have won a World Cup in terms of population, 1.75 million inhabitants in 1930. The second smallest country, by population, to have won the World Cup is Argentina with a population of nearly 28 million people in 1978. Uruguay is also the smallest country ever to win any World Cup medals; only five nations with a currently smaller population than Uruguay's have ever participated in any World Cup: Northern Ireland (3 times), Slovenia (twice), Wales, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. Uruguay is also the smallest nation to win Olympic gold medals in any team sport.
In 1901 Uruguay played against Argentina in their first ever match, a close contest won by Argentina 3-2. Prior to 1916, Uruguay played more than 30 matches, of which all but one were against Argentina. The inaugural Copa America provided Uruguay with more varied opposition. Victories over Chile and Brazil along with a tie against Argentina enabled Uruguay to win the tournament. The following year Uruguay hosted the competition, and retained the title by winning every game. The 1919 Copa America saw Uruguay's first defeat in the tournament, a 1–0 defeat in a playoff with Brazil which went to two periods of extra time, the longest Copa America match in history.
In 1924 the Uruguay team traveled to Paris to become the first South American team to compete in the Olympic Games. In contrast to the physical style of the European teams of the era, Uruguay played a style based around short passes, and won every game, defeating Switzerland 3–0 in the gold medal match. In the 1928 Summer Olympics Uruguay went to Amsterdam to defend their title, again winning the gold medal after defeating Argentina 2–1 in the final. FIFA assumed the responsibility of the organization of the Football Games to be played by FIFA rules and the tournaments would be recognized as World Championships. It only happened twice (1924/1928 Summer Olympics Games) until the creation of it own FIFA World Championship (FIFA World Cup) in 1930.
Following the double Olympic triumph, Uruguay was chosen as the host nation for the first World Cup, held in 1930, the centenary of Uruguay's first constitution. During the World Cup, Uruguay won all its matches, and converted a 1–2 half-time deficit to a 4–2 victory against Argentina at the Estadio Centenario. Due to the refusal of some European teams to participate in the first World Cup, the Uruguayan Football Association urged other countries to reciprocate by boycotting the 1934 World Cup played in Italy. For the 1938 World Cup, France was chosen as host, contrary to a previous agreement to alternate the Championships between South America and Europe, so Uruguay again refused to participate.
Uruguay again won the World Cup in 1950, beating hosts Brazil in one of the biggest upsets in World Cup History. The final was at the Maracanã Stadium in Brazil. Uruguay came from behind to beat the host nation in a match which would become known as the Maracanazo. Many Brazilians had to be treated for shock after the event, such was the surprise of Uruguay's victory.
After their fourth place finish in the 1954 World Cup, the team had mixed performances and after the fourth place finish in 1970, their dominance, quality and performance dropped. They were no longer a world football power and failed to qualify for the World Cup on five occasions in the last nine competitions. They reached an all time low, and were at one time 76th in the FIFA rankings.
However, in 2010 a new generation of footballers, such as Luis Suárez, Diego Forlán and Edison Cavani, created a team that is considered to be the best in the last four decades, and caught attention of many by finishing fourth in the World Cup. Uruguay opened the tournament with a goalless draw against France. They defeated South Africa 3-0 in their second game and beat Mexico 1-0 in their third, finishing at the top of their group with seven points. In the second round they played South Korea, defeating them 2-1 with forward Luis Suarez scoring a brace and earning Uruguay a spot in the quarterfinals for the first time since 1970. They played Ghana in the quarterfinals. The match finished 1-1, forcing the game into extra-time. Ghana nearly scored a winning goal but to the outrage of the Ghanaian team Suarez blocked the ball with his hand, earning him a red card. Ghana forward Asamoah Gyan missed the subsequent penalty, forcing the game to go into penalties. Uruguay won the shoot-out 4-2 and sending them into the last four. They played the Netherlands in the semifinals but were beaten 3-2. They played Germany for third place and once again lost 3-2. This placed Uruguay in fourth place for the tournament, their best result in forty years.
A year later, they won the Copa America for the first time in sixteen years and broke the record for the most successful team in South America.
In the 2014 World Cup Uruguay was placed in Group D alongside Costa Rica, England, and Italy. They were upset by Costa Rica in the opening match, losing 3-1 despite taking the lead in the first half. They rebounded with a 2-1 victory over England and a 1-0 victory over Italy, placing them second in their group and earning a spot in the last sixteen. During the match against Italy forward Luis Suárez bit Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini on his left shoulder. Two days after the match, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee banned Suárez for nine international matches. It was the longest such ban in World Cup history, exceeding the eight-match ban handed to Italy's Mauro Tassotti for breaking the nose of Spain's Luis Enrique at USA '94. Suárez was also banned from taking part in any football-related activity (including entering any stadium) for four months and fined CHF100,000 (approx. £65,700/€82,000/US$119,000). In the Round of Sixteen Uruguay played Columbia but were beaten 2-0, eliminating them from the tournament.
Since 1930, Uruguay have played their home games at the Estadio Centenario in the Uruguayan capital Montevideo. The stadium was built as a celebration of the centenary of Uruguay's first constitution, and had a capacity of 90,000 when first fully opened. The stadium hosted several matches in the 1930 World Cup, including the final, which was watched by a crowd of 93,000. Crowds for Uruguay's home matches vary greatly depending on the importance of the match and the quality of the opposition. World Cup qualifying matches often attract crowds of between 50,000 and 73,000.
Uruguay's stadium Estadio Centenario is one of the biggest stadiums in the world over 100m wide and 100m long.
Between 1901 and 1910, Uruguay wore a variety of different shirts during matches, including solid green and white tops, and even a shirt modeled from the Flag of Artigas. On April 10, 1910, now-defunct River Plate F.C. defeated Argentine team Alumni by 2-1, being the first time an Uruguayan team beat legendary Alumni. That day River Plate wore its alternate jersey, a light blue one due to the home jersey was similar to Alumni's. Ricardo LeBas proposed Uruguay to wear a light blue jersey as a tribute to the victory of River Plate over Alumni. This was approved by president of the Uruguayan Association, Héctor Gómez.
The red jersey that is used in today's away strip was first used at the 1935 Copa América, held in Santa Beatriz in Peru, which Uruguay won. It was not worn again (except for a 1962 FIFA World Cup match, against Colombia) until 1991, when it was officially adopted as the away jersey.
Four stars appear above the team logo on the jersey. Two represent Uruguay's 1930 and 1950 World Cup victories, and the other two represent the gold medals received at the 1924 and 1928 Summer Olympics and recognised by FIFA as World Championships.
Current team status
- 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualification Standings
- 2015 Copa América
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