A Clásico is a match between two rival teams in the world of football and there are plenty of them in el mundo hispano-hablante. Clásicos De Futbol is a monthly series that delves into the rivalry of a different set of teams. This month, we head to Uruguay to take a look at the country‘s most famous rivalry: Club Nacional de Football versus Club Atlético Peñarol.
The story begins in 1878 when a group businessmen from London, England create the Central Uruguay Railway Company of Montevideo Limited (Compañía del Ferrocarril Central del Uruguay) in Montevideo. Eleven years later, the company purchases a few acres of land in Villa Peñarol so that the Englishmen can play a number of sports on their downtime. Then, in 1891, the workers establish the Central Uruguay Railway Cricket Club (CURCC), though they also play football and other sports.
Much like in Argentina, football was the exclusive sport of English immigrants (see above). Local Uruguayans weren’t having any of that racist elitism so, on May 14th 1899, the Uruguay Athletic Club and Montevideo Fútbol Club united and became Club Nacional de Football. The club has the honorary distinction of being the first “Creole” football club in América (meaning the western hemisphere. Let’s drop that “America is a country” white supremacy nonsense!).
In line with their nationalistic, patriotic ideals, the colors on their seal were taken from the flag of Artigas, a flag honoring national hero José Gervasio Artigas.
Both teams first squared off against each other in 1900, the same year as the founding of the Asociación Uruguaya de Fútbol (AUF). The rivalry, however, didn’t truly exist until 1903. The AUF needed players to form a national squad to play against Argentina’s national squad, who had thrashed Uruguay 3 -2 and 6 – 0 in two previous matches. The AUF decided to enlist Nacional as its national team, a move that drew the jealous ire of the CURCC. Nacional shut all the haters up by beating Argentina 3 – 2. As the Uruguayan national team, they secured the country’s first international victory.
Meanwhile, CURCC’s football club split from its parent group in 1913 and became Club Atlético Peñarol as it has been known ever since.
As with other leagues, this rivalry created the superclásico between two teams who, in their zeal to upstage the other, became the most famous and successful clubs of their respective league
I’ll let the numbers do the talking:
Club Nacional Football44 league championships (most recent win: 2011 – 2012 season)
3 Copa Libertadores titles
7 Copa De Honor titles
3 Copa Intercontinental titlesClub Atlético Peñarol 47 league championships (most recent win: 2012 – 2013 season)
4 Copa De Honor titles
5 Copa Libertadores titles
3 Copa Intercontinental titles
These two teams have a combined 91 league titles in a league that is a few years over 100. Show these numbers to anyone who complains about FC Barcelona’s/Real Madrid’s dominance in La Liga.
THE ODDITY OF URUGUAYAN FOOTBALL
The odd thing about Uruguay’s first division football league is the concentration of teams in one location. Every team with the exception of two – Juvented De Las Piedras in Juventud and Cerro Largo Fútbol Club in Melo – are located in the capital city of Montevideo.
Take this futile attempt at scale as an example: imagine the state of California as an autonomous country. Now imagine the state with its own football league. Now imagine that every team in that league sets up shop in Los Angeles County with two exceptions: one in Santa Barbara and a second in San Francisco.
Because of this, the fan bases of Nacional and Peñarol have a monopoly in the city and the league. According to footballderbies.com, 45% of fans root for Nacional while another 45% root for Peñarol. That leaves a whopping 10% for everyone else.
One team, Centro Cultural y Deportivo El Tanque Sisley, recently made a move out of Montevideo to Florida last year. No word yet on how this has expanded the team’s fan base.
Speaking of fans, those fools are cray! There are the usual supporters such as the Bolsos or Tricolores of Nacional and Mariyas, Carboneros or Aurinegros of Peñarol. Then, there are the hooligans (las barras bravas) where you can expect putasos and non-stop locura in their stadium sections. La Banda Del Parque sit on the Nacional side while Peñarol has La Caterva Aurinegra. Caterva, by the way, is the Spanish word for “unruly mob.”
And yes, they do live up to their name: