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A football war

This content was published on March 17, 2008 - 15:13

In 1969 El Salvador and Honduras were fighting for a place in the 1970 World Cup within their qualifying zone. The political climate had been strained since the early 1960s. A Salvadorian supporter had committed suicide, Honduran supporters had died and there were riots, fires and incidents at the border ... and a final victory for El Salvador on neutral ground in Mexico on June 26.

On July 14 war was launched. Tegucigalpa, capital of Honduras, was bombarded, and the Salvadorian army rapidly progressed. A cease-fire was signed on July 18 and the conflict ended with a status quo after 2,000 deaths. Was it a "football war"? Historians instead refer to the "100-hour war". If football really did act as a trigger, the conflict was to be transferred to a more complex political, social and economic context.

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