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Stars Over Crests (Part 4): National Teams and Uruguay

Posted by John Hickey on

Even the most casual soccer fan knows that national teams get 1 star for every FIFA World Cup title, it is probably most peoples first introduction to the concept. However, even soccer's most simple championship star rule isn't without controversy. Uruguay, who won the World Cup in 1930 and 1950, has 4 stars over it's crest, and here's why.

Prior to the inaugural World Cup in 1930, the biggest international soccer tournament on the planet was the Olympics. Just before that first World Cup, Uruguay was gold medalist in the 1924 Paris Olympics and 1928 Amsterdam Olympics. Two obvious concerns immediately come to light: why do these gold metals count as World Cup wins, and since they do, why don't all the other Olympic metals count? After all, there's records of soccer being played in the Olympic Games since 1896.

Here is what the Uruguayan Federation claims and FIFA agrees to. Firstly, in 1924 and 1928 soccer in the Olympics was organized by FIFA and the French and Dutch Federations respectively, as opposed to the International Olympic Committee. Secondly, differently from any other previous edition of the Olympics, in 1924 and 1928 any player could be called up, not just amateurs.

This wasn't officially recognized by FIFA until a formal request was made by Uruguayan historian Atilio Garrido in 1992. Garrido used a number of publications from the time by FIFA itself calling Uruguay world champion as their main argument and FIFA didn't hesitate to agree. So to put it in a nutshell, the Olympic gold metals aren't seen as equivalent to the World Cup, Uruguay hasn't won the World Cup four times, but is 4 times world champion.

The only controversy after that happened in 2021 when a leaked email from Puma to the Uruguayan Federation revealed that a FIFA employee asked Puma to remove the 2 extra stars from the crest, but FIFA listened the Uruguayan appeal and retracted their request of removal.

Regardless of whether those gold metals merit a star on the crest that equates them to World Cup titles or not, history should always be celebrated and Uruguay definitely has reason to be proud. 


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