Carlos Garces López was a football player and athlete, representing Mexico at the Summer Olympics in both 1924 and 1928 in athletics and football respectively. As a Midfielder, he was part of Club America's founding squad and was a key player to their dominance of the Primera Fuerza in the mid-1920s. Garces López also formed part of the first Mexico national football team squad in 1923, playing in Mexico's first series of official international matches against Guatemala. As football in Mexico was not a lucrative occupation at the time, Garces López, a licensed dentist, was employed at the cement company Cemento Cruz Azul located in the small town of Jasso, Hidalgo providing dental care to its employees. He would travel regularly to Mexico City from Jasso to train and play for America.
In 1925, Cemento Cruz Azul had voted to establish a company baseball team as the sport was popular in the town of Jasso. Garces López, however, personally lobbied for many months to change the official company sport to football. Initially receiving resistance from American employees, Garces López eventually convinced the company directors to hold a referendum in which the workers would vote on the company team's main sport. On March 22, 1927, the vote was held where it was decided the company team's sport was to change from baseball to football. Cemento Cruz Azul installed a football pitch on the company's premises in place of the baseball field and the football team was officially established on two months later on May 22 where Garces López was appointed head coach of the newly founded team.
On December 10, 1953, Guillermo Álvarez Macías was appointed general manager of Cemento Cruz Azul. He had been employed at the cooperative since the age of 12 when his father died in 1931. Initially employed as an automotive mechanic, Álvarez Macías spent over two decades at the company and rising through the ranks. A self-proclaimed socialist, Álvarez Macías laid plans to reconstruct the cooperative into a functioning town, building schools, restaurants, paving roads, in hopes to modernize and "share social and economic progress, to raise the standard of living of the worker and his family." In his goal to promote social well being among members of the co-op, Álvarez Macías invested into cultural and recreational activities. This included investing much more into the football club whose proceeds were used to provide the worker-players with better living conditions.
By 1931, Cemento Cruz Azul had experienced a series of economic troubles following the Great Depression. Due to the loss of demand and production of cement and other construction materials, Cemento Cruz Azul faced bankruptcy and was bought by cement company La Tolteca on March 1, 1931 for 1 million pesos. As it became apparent Cemento Cruz Azul was to be liquidated, 192 workers of Cemento Cruz Azul unionized and sued the executives of the company to prevent the transfer of the property which was set for October 15 of that year. The government of Hidalgo ruled in favor of the workers after it was shown La Tolteca had premeditated intentions of liquidation. The workers assumed control of the industrial facilities on November 2. On May 21, 1932, the governor of Hidalgo, Bartolomé Vargas Lugo, decreed the 192 workers of Cemento Cruz Azul as collective owners of the plant, exercising eminent domain. Part of the agreement, all 192 workers who assumed responsibility of the plant agreed to pay the state of Hidalgo 1.3 million pesos over the course of 10 years. The company changed its name to Cooperativa Manufacturera de Cemento Portland La Cruz Azul, S.C.L, reestablishing itself as a cooperative in January 29, 1934. The debt was paid off on November 2, 1941, 10 years after workers took control of the plant. In celebration, Cruz Azul organized a match against R.C. España where the game ended in a 0-0 draw.
In 1958, team captain and machinist, Luis Velázquez Hernández, served as the club's ambassador to the Mexican Football Federation to lobby for official membership on the club's behalf. Velázquez Hernández met Paulino Sánchez in Mexico City, who had ties to prominent football executives. They met with Joaquín Soria Terrazas and Ignacio Trelles to discuss membership to the federation for the club. Sánchez vouched in favor of Cruz Azul, citing their continual success in the amateur and reserve tournaments. Much to the displeasure of Álvarez Macías who asserted the club was not ready for professional football.
In preparation for federation membership, Paulino Sánchez assumed the position as head manager of the club. Due to regulations, teams were required to have a reserve team. Lafayette, a club experiencing financial troubles located in Colonia Moctezuma, had many talented players that could potentially be Cruz Azul's reserves. Under the recommendation of Sánchez, Cruz Azul purchased the Lafayette team. The acquisition was completed sometime in 1960. Plans to construct a club stadium that complied to the standards set by the Mexican Football Federation were conceived in 1960. In 1961, ground broke to construct Estadio 10 de Diciembre and finished in 1963.
Jorge Marik, a Hungarian coach who previously managed Atlas and Atlante, signed on to manage the club in 1961. Cruz Azul won a direct promotion to Primera División after Marik led the club to the 1st position on the general table with 45 points (19 wins, 7 draws, and 4 losses) in the 1963–64 Mexican Segunda División season.
Despite not possessing federation membership and due to Sánchez's personal contacts, Cruz Azul was invited to compete in the 1960-61 edition of Copa de la Segunda División de México, a competition sanctioned by the Mexican Football Federation. The club's first game was played April 2, 1961, in Jasso against Zamora, ending in 2-1 in favor of Cruz Azul. The second leg was played on April 9, 1961 ending in a 3-3 draw. They faced Querétaro in the next round winning 1-0 on aggregate. Cruz Azul was eliminated by UNAM. Following their impressive performance in the cup, the Mexican Football Federation granted Cruz Azul an opportunity to register as a professional team.
Following the club's promotion, Estadio 10 de Diciembre underwent renovations on March 6, 1964 rebuilding the wooden stands and dressing rooms which were compliant to regulations.
After poor results, Marik left the club after the 1965–66 Mexican Primera División season where Cruz Azul finished in 13th place out of 16 teams on the league table. Walter Ormeño became the team's interm coach, managing 3 games, before the club signed Raúl Cárdenas October 20, 1966.
In December 1969, Cruz Azul was entered in a non-FIFA sanctioned intercontinental cup against Manchester United organized by UEFA and CONCACAF. The winners of the UEFA Champions League and CONCACAF Champions' Cup competed in a two-legged tie. The first leg, played in Estadio Azteca on the 18th of December, Cruz Azul won 3-0 with goals by Fernando Bustos, Octavio Muciño, and Rafael Hernández Pat. The second leg played in Old Trafford on December 26 ended in a 1-1 draw with goals scored by Bobby Charlton and Octavio Muciño on the English and Mexican side respectively, winning the UEFA-CONCACAF Cup for Cruz Azul.
Cruz Azul finished in second place on the general table for the 1969–70 Mexican Primera División season. The club was awarded the 1970 CONCACAF Champions' Cup on December 15, 1970 after Saprissa and Transvaal withdrew from the second phase of the competition in September citing economic issues.
Founded in Jasso, Hidalgo, the club moved officially to Mexico City in 1971, where it had already registered a great presence and activity since its beginnings. Estadio Azteca, the nation's largest sports venue, served as their home venue until 1996, when they moved to the Estadio Azul. After 22 years the team returned to the Azteca at the conclusion of the 2017-18 Liga MX season. Its headquarters are in La Noria, a suburb within Xochimilco in the southern part of Mexico City.
On December 18, 1976, Guillermo Álvarez Macías died of a heart attack at the age of 56 while awaiting President Portillo for a meeting.
In 1988, Guillermo Héctor Álvarez Cuevas, the son of the late Guillermo Álvarez Macías, assumed the position of general manager at the cooperative Cemento Cruz Azul and presidency of Cruz Azul.
Under the management of Luis Fernando Tena, Cruz Azul won the CONCACAF Champions' Cup on August 24, 1997 for the second consecutive year after defeating LA Galaxy 5-3 in the final. On December 7, 1997, Cruz Azul, who finished 2nd in the general standings of the league table, won the Invierno 1997 league tournament the against table leaders León via golden goal. This marked an end to the club's 17 year long league drought as well as achieving Cruz Azul's second continental treble.
Cruz Azul has been the Primera División champion nine times, trailing Toluca's 10, C.D. Guadalajara's 12, and Club América's 13. Cruz Azul's six titles makes it the second-most successful club in the history of the CONCACAF Champions League, the most prestigious international club competition in North American football, trailing intracity rival Club América. Cruz Azul was also the first CONCACAF team to reach the final of the Copa Libertadores, the most prestigious club competition in South American football (which invited top Liga MX clubs from 1998 to 2017), losing on penalties to Argentine football giants Boca Juniors in 2001. In the 1968–69 season, Cruz Azul was the first CONCACAF club (and third worldwide) to complete a rare Continental Treble, winning the Mexican Primera División championship, the Copa México national tournament, and the CONCACAF Champions League.
In 2001, Cruz Azul was invited to a tournament between select Mexican and Venezuelan teams that would then compete in the Copa Libertadores, a tournament of the best South American teams. The two best teams of this qualifying tournament earned immediate placement on the roster.
After leaving a pre-season practice session on July 16, 2005, then manager Rubén Omar Romano was abducted by 5 men after being cornered by two stolen vehicles. A ransom note was later found demanding of Romano's family $500,000. Assistant coach Isaac Mizrahi managed the team during Romano's absence. After 65 days, Romano was rescued and found unharmed after federal agents raided a house in a poor neighborhood where Romano and his kidnappers were thought to be situated. The agents arrested 7 conspirators who were under the orders of convicted abductor Jose Luis Canchola.
In the quarterfinals, Cruz Azul defeated Pumas UNAM with an aggregate score of 3-1. They moved to the semifinals against the Atlante, the first leg was played in Mexico City, and Cruz Azul won 3–1. In the second leg, Cruz Azul and the Atlante played a regular match in Cancún, Quintana Roo, that ended 1–1, resulting in Cruz Azul reaching the Final for the second consecutive time in 2008. In the final, Cruz Azul played against Toluca, both teams tied on winning Mexican titles (at that time with 8 each). The first leg played in Mexico City, and ended with a dramatic 0–2 with a victory for visitors, Toluca, and in the second leg, which was played at "Estadio Nemesio Díez". Cruz Azul won 0–2, making the tie on aggregate "2–2", as the match was tied, they played "extra time" and the draw continued until going to the "Penalty – Shoot out", where Toluca won 7–6 over Cruz Azul, Alejandro Vela was Cruz Azul "villain" because he failed the last "penalty shoot-out", another incident before the match went to "extra time", was a clear foul suffered by Villaluz on the Goal area, Toluca's player "Jose Manuel Cruz Alta" crashed with Cruz Azul player, making him unconscious, but the referee didn't mark the foul even though Cruz Azul player was knocked out, he didn't even take a red card on the Toluca player, (unfortunately Cruz Azul had made his 3 substitutions, so they ended the match playing with only 10 players, an unfair situation, that interfered directly on the final result of the match) this made the Toluca team champions after winning their 9th Mexican title, becoming the 3rd most successful of Mexican title winning teams.
In April 2012, Cruz Azul changed their official name from Club Deportivo, Social y Cultural Cruz Azul, A.C. to simply Cruz Azul Fútbol Club, A.C.
The club was regularly regarded to be contenders for championship titles due to their formidable and financial stature in the league. Throughout this period in time however, Cruz Azul competed in many league and tournament finals only to finish runners-up. In these championship matches, as well as regular season games, Cruz Azul initially would be favorites to win, often having the advantage over the opponent, but would ultimately draw or lose near the end of full stoppage time. As a result, the club garnered a negative reputation of being cursed and the club would often be subject to ridicule. The term cruzazulear, defined as "the act of losing a game after victory is practically assured", is used to describe Cruz Azul losing a match in the aforementioned manner beginning sometime in 2013. The usage of the term was so prevalent that it is officially recognized by the Royal Spanish Academy in 2020.
On April 23, 2014, after defeating Toluca, Cruz Azul won their 6th CONCACAF championship, a record at the time. This gave Cruz Azul a berth at the 2014 FIFA Club World Cup, where they would earn a fourth-place finish.
Since the Apertura 2014, Cruz Azul has been unable to qualify to the liguilla playoffs for six consecutive tournaments. Cruz Azul qualified for the liguilla for the first time in three years in the Apertura 2017 season. However, they were eliminated in the quarterfinals by the América, who advanced as the higher-ranked seed, with an aggregate score of 0–0. On 27 November 2017, Cruz Azul announced that Paco Jémez would not renew his contract for the following season.
In the Liga MX Clausura 2018 tournament, Cruz Azul ended up ranked 12th and failed to qualify for the liguilla. Cruz Azul were last place in the group stage of the Clausura 2018 Copa MX. On 7 May 2018, the club announced director of football Eduardo de la Torre's contract had ended and would be replaced by Ricardo Peláez, former director of football for the América.
Cruz Azul faced the Club América in a rematch of the Clausura 2013 final for the Apertura 2018 final. The first leg was played on 13 December 2018 which ended in a scoreless draw. The second leg was played on 16 December 2018 and ended in a 2–0 victory for the Club América. With this defeat, Cruz Azul extended its 21-year-old championship drought in the league for at least another season.
In May 2020, Guillermo Alvarez Cuevas, then president of the club, was indicted by Mexican authorities on multiple accounts of insurance fraud, racketeering, extortion, tax evasion, and money laundering. On July 26, an arrest warrant was issued for Alvarez along with board directors Victor Manuel Garcés, Miguel Eduardo Borrell, and Mario Sánchez Álvarez for alleged ties to organized crime. Alvarez subsequently resigned from his position at the club in August 2020 after 32 years as acting president. Interpol is currently searching for Alvarez in 195 countries and as of June 2, 2021, remains at large.
On December 6, 2020, Cruz Azul faced UNAM on the second semi-final leg of the Guardianes 2020 Liga MX final phase. Although Cruz Azul had a 4–0 lead at the beginning of the second leg matchup, they lost the match 0–4, thus tied with UNAM in the final aggregate. However, as UNAM won in week 17 match at 1-0 they held the tie breaker, they advanced to the final.
On May 30, 2021, Cruz Azul ended its 23 year Primera División championship drought by beating Santos Laguna 2-1 on aggregate at Estadio Azteca, earning its ninth league championship.
The club became infamous in Mexico for not having won a Mexican league title from 1997 to 2021. For an English-speaking audience, the so-called "Cruz Azul curse" is likened to Neverkusen for German team Bayer Leverkusen, the Curse of the Bambino for MLB baseball's Boston Red Sox, or the Curse of the Billy Goat for MLB's Chicago Cubs. The commonality derives from these teams' inability, no matter the quality of the team relative to their opponents in a tournament or a championship match, to win a championship. The "curse" was broken after their winning of the Guardianes 2021 final match versus Santos Laguna, after scoring 2-1 on May 30, 2021.