Sunday, November 27, 2022

The Soccer War

While the World Cup in Qatar is on people's minds currently, it's an opportunity to look at how crazy non-Americans can be about soccer.

So crazy they actually have gone to war over it.

In the Football War, the nations of El Salvador and Honduras traded barbs and soccer hooliganism in the 1969 qualifiers as they competed for spots in the FIFA 1970 World Cup.

This soccer-related violence and taunting rapidly came to a head, and El Salvador opened the match, uh, war, by bombing targets in Honduras by strapping bombs to passenger aircraft to act as bombers, and it then  invaded Honduras with its larger army.

Honduras called offsides, and bombed El Salvadoran airfields back, and the last recorded propeller-plane warbird vs propeller plane warbird air combat then took place, with Honduran F4U Corsairs fighting El Salvadoran Cavalier Mustangs and FG-1D Corsairs. Honduras seemed to have the advantage in the air, but the advantage of El Salvadoran numbers on the pitch ground more than made up for that.

The OAS was then called in to referee the match, and as in many soccer games, while El Salvador took an early 1-0 lead on the ground, progress and gameplay was impressively slow, and after much passing and quite a few penalties, the match overall ended in a tie.  

A ceasefire was declared, El Salvador withdrew from Honduran territory (along with thousands of El Salvadorans who had been living in Honduras prior to the outbreak of hostilities, leading to an economic crisis in El Salvador) and El Salvador then advanced on to the 1970 FIFA World Cup to be eliminated after its first three matches.

Yes, there was an actual shooting war lasting 100 hours over soccer.

We will close this historical footnote out by noting that the combined losses to both El Salvador and Honduras in the Football War is lower than the death toll of construction workers who built the soccer stadiums for this year's World Cup in Qatar - 3,000 deaths combined in the war as compared to 6,500+ who have died building the stadiums.


Old NFO said...

Yep, the ONLY time we got a direct comparison of Mustangs to Corsairs... And I could care less about soccer.

Aaron said...

Old NFO: Yes as well as Corsair on Corsair action too. Soccer to me is about as exciting as watching paint dry and I care about as much.