Ecuador has qualified for three FIFA World Cups in 2002, 2006 and 2014. Their best performance came in 2006 when they advanced to the Round of 16, eventually eliminated by England. They are one of three countries in South America not to have won the Copa América, the others being Chile and Venezuela. Their best performance in the continental tournament was fourth in 1959 and 1993, both times on home soil.
From a historical viewpoint, Ecuador have been one of the more struggling footballing nations in South America. Despite their past irregularities, however, Ecuador has risen to be a serious South American competitor in recent years.
Discarding an invitation to participate in the inaugural 1930 FIFA World Cup held in Uruguay, their first participation in a World Cup qualifying campaign was in the 1962 campaign, eventually being well beaten by Argentina over two games. However, the 1966 qualifying campaign pitted the side, regarded as one of the finest teams Ecuador has ever produced, against 1962 hosts and third-place finishers Chile and a weakened Colombia side. Ecuador, featuring stars such as Washington Muñoz, Alberto Spencer, Carlos Alberto Raffo, Enrique Raymondi and Jorge Bolaños, forced a play-off in Peru before being eliminated by Chile. Other talented players to have represented Ecuador include José Villafuerte in the 1970s and 1980s.
The 1998 World Cup qualifiers saw the format for qualifying in CONMEBOL changed to a league home-and-away system. This difference made a huge impact on Ecuador's performance as they clinched several important home wins during the campaign. At the end, they achieved a very respectable 6th-place finish, just under Peru and Chile (which qualified by goal differential). The campaign also marked the emergence of several players, such as Agustín Delgado, Álex Aguinaga, Iván Hurtado, Ulises de la Cruz and Iván Kaviedes, who would set the stage for Ecuador's achievements in the next decade.
Another disappointing showing at yet another Copa América in 2007 and three successive defeats in the beginning of the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign led to the end of Suarez's time in the national team. He was replaced in 2008 for Sixto Vizuete, who had previously gained recognition for winning the 2007 Pan American Games with the U-18s. Vizuete became one of the few Ecuadorians to coach the U-23 national team, and senior team, but Ecuador finished the qualifying campaign for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in 6th place, sadly being eliminated from the finals for the first time since 1998. They managed to turn it around in the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign where they finished in the top 4, enough to record a third World Cup appearance. On Friday, December 6, 2013 they were drawn into a balanced group compromising of top seeds, Switzerland, former champions France, and minnows Honduras.
Following the death of Christian Benítez, the Ecuadorian Football Federation has retired his jersey number 11 from the national team. According to the Federation's president, Luis Chiriboga, to honor Christian Benítez the number would no longer be used by any other team player.
The standard Ecuadorian uniform maintains the colours of the national flag, being the tricolor, yellow, blue, and red. The alternate colours of the uniform are White, and Blue, this being based on a flag once flown by Ecuador based on the flag of Guayas. Its crest has remained the same since its inception in 1927, with variations placing Ecuador on top of the crest.