Criciúma Esporte Clube was founded on May 13, 1947, as Comerciário Esporte Clube; however the club folded due to a financial crisis in the 1960s. The club refounded in 1976 by some of the original Comerciário Esporte Clube members. In 1978 the club was renamed as Criciúma Esporte Clube, and its current colors black, yellow and white were adopted in 1984. The present colors of Criciúma Esporte Clube are the reason why the club is called Tigre (meaning Tiger). The club's greatest feat was winning the 1991Copa do Brasil, which qualified Criciúma to the following year's Copa Libertadores.
In the following years the club was not very successful, and was relegated to the Série B. In 2005, Criciúma, after a very poor campaign, was relegated to the Brazilian Série C. In 2006, Criciúma won the Série C, as was promoted back to the Série B.
After a period of crisis in the club, in 2012 the club regained forces and set a promotion for the Série A, after being in the first four places the entire championship. In 2013, Criciúma stayed in the first league.
Criciúma has won three national level championships, including Copa do Brasil in 1991, this way Criciúma qualified to the 1992 edition of the most important South American football competition, Libertadores da América Cup. Despite not winning the Copa Libertadores , Criciúma finished in the 5th place, even surpassing the expectations of its fans.
These achievements make Criciúma one of the most successful teams from Santa Catarina.