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History of Uruguayan Men’s Football – A Big Lesson to Learn!
Football and human development
Uruguay’s performance at the 2010 World Cup comes as no surprise to many people who have followed their victories and dreams. The fiercely competitive Uruguay side surged ahead in 1997 as they came close to winning the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, beating out Ghana and Ireland. Since then, the national team has not won the tournament, but it paved the way for Uruguay’s World Cup football team in South Africa in June 2010.
In sub-Saharan Africa, the eyes of the world were on Uruguay. Why? The national team – made up largely of unknown players – became one of the top four teams in the world, knocking out bookmakers’ favorite Brazil – made up of world-class footballers. After beating four teams: South Africa, Mexico, South Korea and Ghana, the nation, traditionally a leader in the first half of the 20th century, became the first Latin American country in 8 years to reach the men’s semi-final. finals.
Uruguay succeeded despite a series of obstacles: a small nation of around 4 million inhabitants, the exodus of players, the lack of sponsors and traditional rivals (Brazil and Argentina). In addition to these obstacles, the country has one of the lowest sports budgets in the Western Hemisphere. Nevertheless, two factors have contributed to the development of football: human development and determination.
1)- Human Development: Due to its remarkable human development – health care, nutrition, education and recreation – Uruguay is widely regarded as one of the most respected democratic countries in the developing world – the envy of many Spanish-speaking republics in the region – since the mid-1980s. In the mid-1990s, the UNDP’s Human Development Index ranked Uruguay – which has no mineral resources such as oil, gas, silver and gold – 32nd out of 173 nations and dependencies. . In other words, one of the government’s top priorities is to improve the lives of Uruguayan children. In fact, these policies have helped to improve the country’s sports performance, as well as national pride. As a result, the national under-17 football team won the right to take part in the 1991 World Youth Championships, a participation which they repeated in 1999, 2005 and 2009.
2)-Determination and Passion: If one word could describe the Uruguayan team, it’s ‘determination’. Despite being made up of unknown players, the national team did not feel intimidated by world-class teams such as France (which fell short of expectations), Germany and the United States. Netherlands. At the 2010 World Cup, Uruguay, one of the smallest republics geographically in the Western Hemisphere, won the respect of fans and pundits alike with their determination and passion. Since then, they, the Uruguayan team, were aware of the nation’s history as one of football’s greatest pioneers. Without a doubt, these players are a symbol of hope and courage.
Dictatorship and football
Following the automatic coup of 1973, the then head of state, José María Bordaberry, an anti-Marxist strongman, established a de facto dictatorship, after which Uruguay was marked by several problems . The country’s international image has been tarnished by the regime’s poor human rights and anti-democratic schemes. In this atmosphere, sport was not among the priorities of the Uruguayan dictators, unlike other tyrants in the region, including the Argentinian Jorge Rafael Videla (1976-1981) and the Peruvian Juan Velasco Alvarado (1968-1975).
Year after year, the military regime overturned most Olympic policies. In fact, football, which had nurtured national identity in the first half of the 20th century, entered a period of decline. After Uruguay’s participation in the World Cup in West Germany in June 1974, where it came in 14th place, the nation, for example, lost the chance of winning an Olympic medal by refusing to send football players to the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal (Canada). Yet its most unsuccessful year was 1977 when Uruguay lost 1-0 to Bolivia and were unable to participate in the 1978 World Cup. Undoubtedly, Uruguayan players, who once beat Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, were plagued by low morale.
In July 1979, surprisingly, the national team did not participate in the Pan American Games in San Juan de Puerto Rico (where they were the big favorite). But it was not for lack of talent. Before this multi-sport meeting, Uruguayan players won the South American Under-20 tournament in 1979. In the early 1980s, he decided not to participate in the Continental Olympic Tournament in Colombia. Also, despite lifting the Golden Cup in Montevideo, the team, once again, failed to qualify for the 1982 World Cup as they could not win the South American elimination.
Amid economic stagnation, corruption and human rights abuses, up to 200 footballers have left the country. On the other hand, in 1984, the anti-communist dictatorship resigned after 11 years.
Once upon a time in Uruguay…
During the first half of the 20th century, Uruguay – slightly smaller than Missouri – wrote one of the most remarkable chapters in Latin American history as the country received praise from the international community for its support for democracy, human rights and human development. As a result, Uruguay, which had one of the highest per capita incomes in the Western Hemisphere, had been compared to Switzerland and other European countries. At the same time, the Spanish-speaking republic boasts one of the most important Olympic projects on the American continent.
In fact, sport, along with education, was a high priority of Uruguayan rule. It was during this time – considered the “golden age” of Uruguayan history – that the national team was a leader in football on the planet. Since then, football stars including Obdulio Varela – who led the national team to win the 1950 FIFA World Cup – José Nasazzi and Pedro Cea – who led the gold medal-winning Uruguayan Olympic football team in Paris 1924 and Amsterdam 1928 – – were known in schools, universities and factories.
At its peak, the Uruguayan team – a great Latin American pride – won consecutive Olympic gold medals in football in 1924 – at that time, no other Latin American country had even won the Olympic trophy – and 1928, as well as the first – ever winning the men’s World Cup title in 1930. These victories, on the other hand, are considered one of the most remarkable stories in football, which inspired Brazil to produce teams of world class. Yet the most notable performance came in 1950. In that year, the Uruguay national football team shot to fame by defeating hosts Brazil and winning the world title, an event that s took place at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro. The country’s victory is a milestone in the history of football.
These achievements have given the South American nation a prestige in the world disproportionate to its size and population. Of course, the democratic system has done a lot to win international meetings. Unfortunately, these victories did not continue as the military dictatorship was established in the early 1970s.
Uruguay – A country of sportsmen
Since the 1970s, governments have not given sport a high priority. Despite this, Uruguay – with a population of 4 million – has had extraordinary champions, including Ana Maria Norbis (aquatics), Fiorella Bonicelli (tennis), Sergio Lafuente (weightlifting) and Ricardo Vera (athletics). During this time, his basketball players also enjoyed particular success. At the FIBA World Championships Colombia in the early 80s, Uruguayan athlete Wilfredo Ruiz was the first top scorer. Two years later, in 1984, for example, the national basketball team beat Canada and won the right to participate in the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles (where they finished sixth). Previously, Uruguay became the only Latin American team to win back-to-back Olympic bronze medals in basketball.
Besides football and basketball, Uruguay has won praise for its international cyclists and rowers. In the 1980s, the country’s rower Jesús Posse came close to winning gold at the World Championships, an international competition dominated by Eastern Europe. At the 2000 Summer Games in Oceania, cyclist Milton Wybnants was the first runner-up, behind Spaniard Juan Llaneras.
Finally, the Uruguayan government should devise an ambitious program to place Uruguay – sometimes called the “Switzerland of the Americas” – in the top ten countries in the sporting world this century. Like South Korea, one of the most successful Olympic nations in the world since 1988, this Spanish-speaking republic should think big.
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