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).
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 after being in the first four places the entire championship returned to the Série A.
Criciúma has won three national level championships. Winning the 1991 Copa do Brasil qualified the club to the 1992 Copa Libertadores where Criciúma finished in the 5th place, surpassing even the expectations of its fans. These achievements make Criciúma one of the most successful teams from Santa Catarina.