Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide
So there is a joke going around work, what do you call someone who isn’t excited about the world cup? An American. Well some Americans are excited about it, but not a lot. Work has it going on the big screen TV’s during my whole shift. But American’s just aren’t that into soccer of as the rest of the world calls it football. Not like the Europeans or South Americans or the Europeans. And no one in the world is as excited about The World Cup champions as El Salvador and Honduras in 1967, they literally went to war over it.
Now I didn’t use the word literally when I meant to say figuratively, I mean a shooting hot war with airplanes and guns where over three thousand people were killed. You still think I am kidding let me tell you the ballad of Soccer War.
It was 1969 and El Salvador and Honduras were in the qualifying match for the FIFA World Cup. Now it is unfair to say that the war was all about soccer. The two countries were gunning each other for quite a while. Honduras was giving the boot, to El Salvadorian compansinos and longtime settlers of Salvadoran decent due to land reform legislation. But the last straw took place the day El Salvador won the paly offs, it then terminated diplomatic ties the same day.
Salvadoran passenger planes were made into makeshift bombers and strapped explosives to their outside fuselage. This devastated the better equipped Honduran Air Force. The El Salvadoran army then began a land campaign. Eventually, the Honduran Air Corp rallied and began to strike back at the Salvadoran air fields but more importantly their supply and fuel depots that were equipping its armies forward thrust. Armed with old American Mustangs and Corsairs this is the last war where both sides engaged each other with prop driven aircraft.
The Organization of American States, feared that this would turn in to a blood bath would soon cross into other countries, and at the behest of Honduras but pressure on El Salvador to stop its advancement, and for all practical purposes the war ended after 100 hours.
Now I am not one that gets laughter from a deadly war, and I have already said that soccer was at the most a secondary cause of the war, it does show something as a simple as a game can ignite national pride in a devastating wildfire. At the very least it shows that us stupid Homo Sapiens will fight with the smallest of provocation.