Football rivalries can be intense, heated and vicious. Though, can a football match spark an actual war between 2 factions?
The answer is (unfortunately) yes.
It happened in 1969, when two neighbouring countries in Central America, Honduras and El Salvador, started an armed conflict known as the “football war” (Spanish: la guerra del fútbol).
The 2 national teams faced each other in the 1970 world cup qualifiers. El Salvador prevailed and earned a place at the world cup; however, after the return match (won by the Salvadorans 3-0) and the final decisive play off (Honduras defeated 3-2) the government of El Salvador claimed that 12,000 Salvadorans citizens were forced to leave Honduras. As well as cases of violence and murders of Salvadorans nationals in the country.
After the games, El Salvador ceased all the diplomatic relations with Honduras and about 2 weeks later invaded the country!
Luckily the war only lasted 4 days; Salvadorans troops withdrew from Honduras after pressure from the Organisation of American States.
Even though the underlying reasons were far from just a football rivalry (political and economical tensions arose between the two nations when Honduras approved new laws that penalised the large Salvadoran community in the country) those football games were the last drop and a perfect excuse for belligerency.
When football is the mirror of society.
(By @365FootballShirts on Instagram)