Uruguay will host the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, continuing a great footballing tradition that began with the first FIFA World Cup™ in history back in 1930, a tournament the country hosted and won.
Origins and geography
The Oriental Republic of Uruguay gained independence on 25 August 1825. The country takes its name from the Uruguay River, which marks its western border.
Uruguay borders Argentina to the west and Brazil to the northeast. Its southern coastline is formed by the River Plate and the Atlantic. Approximately half of its 3.3 million inhabitants live in Montevideo, its capital city.
Covering an area of 176,215 km², Uruguay is one of the smallest countries in Latin America. Its topography is made up of coastal lowland, hills and rolling plains.
Climate and tourism
The country’s climate is temperate, with warm summers and rain all year round. Seasonal variations are pronounced across the country, with the north being warmer and the south windier and cooler.
Uruguay’s tourism industry is mainly centred on its coastline, which is home to well-known cities such as Punta del Este (Maldonado) and Colonia del Sacramento (Colonia).
Aside from its beautiful beaches, Uruguay has a culture that draws on a number of influences such as the countryside – with its customs and traditional festivals – and popular forms of dance and theatre, including tango, murga and the drum-based candombe.
Uruguay boasts a thriving arts scene in which cinema, theatre and music all play prominent parts. It is known also for its cuisine, which includes the herbal infusion mate, tortas fritas (fried cakes) and some of the finest cuts of meat in the world.
The economy and currency
The Uruguayan economy is founded mainly on its agriculture and ports. Tourism is also a significant contributor, primarily in coastal areas in the spring and summer months.
The currency is the peso, though the US dollar is accepted in most stores, supermarkets and restaurants.
Football in Uruguay
Football is the most popular and widely played sport in Uruguay, both at amateur level – where it is played at schools and local clubs and on rough patches of ground known as potreros – and professional level. It has also provided the country with its greatest sporting triumphs.
Uruguay’s first taste of international success came when it won gold at the Paris 1924 and Amsterdam 1928 Men’s Olympic Football Tournaments, which were regarded as world championships at the time. Thanks to those achievements, the South American nation was named the host of the inaugural FIFA World Cup, a tournament it won thanks to a 4-2 defeat of neighbours Argentina in the Final.
Twenty years later, La Celeste pulled off one of the biggest shocks in the history of the game, beating hosts Brazil 2-1 in the last match of the final four-team round to win the World Cup for a second time. Played before nearly 200,000 disbelieving Brazil fans at the legendary Maracana, the match went down in history as the Maracanazo.
Uruguay have also won the Copa America 15 times, more than any other country, while its two biggest clubs, Penarol and Nacional, have won the Copa Libertadores eight times between them and the Intercontinental Cup – the forerunner of the FIFA Club World Cup – six times in total.
As for the country’s women’s football league, it dates back to 1996. The Uruguayan Football Association (AUF) currently runs an A Division with seven clubs, a B Division with eight clubs, a ten-team U-19 championship and a ten-team U-16 championship. Together, a little over 2,000 players take part in these four competitions.
Uruguay’s biggest achievement in international women’s football to date came at the 2012 U-17 South American Championships. The Uruguayans finished runners-up at the tournament and qualified for the World Cup in the age group in Azerbaijan later that year, where they failed to progress beyond the group phase.
The FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Uruguay 2018 will be the first world finals to be held in the country since 1930.