Okay, so it’s kinda cool that El Salvador and Honduras will play a
World Cup qualifying game at RFK stadium in Washington, D.C., June 2. These are two good teams and the match will be a lot of fun to watch.
But what Steven Goff missed in his little report (El Salvador, Honduras tentatively set for June 2 friendly at RFK Stadium) in the Washington Post is that there is a LOT of baggage in the football — soccer to the States — matches between the two countries.
A quick “El Salvador Honduras Football” Google search would have found a bigger story behind the June 2 match.
Everyone knows that soccer is taken seriously around the world except in the United States.
Flashback to 1968. Tensions between Honduras and El Salvador were growing over border disputes. By 1969 things were getting much worse as Honduras complained about more than 300,000 illegal Salvadorans living in Honduras.
Then came a qualifying game for the 1970 World Cup. The two countries left the second round even, requiring a third game June 25, 1969 on neutral territory to determine who moved ahead.
El Salvador won 3-2 in a game played in Mexico City. Riots broke out between fans of the two teams.
After all the political tensions between the two countries, the riots just added fuel to the fire.
The Salvadoran army invaded Honduras July 14, 1969, beginning the Football War.
The Organization of American States worked out a cease-fire that took effect July 20. By the middle of August the Salvadoran army left Honduras.
A peace treaty was signed in 1980 formally ending the war.
So there is really much more to this proposed June 2 match between El Salvador and Honduras.
Sure the governments of Honduras and El Salvador are on good terms now. And there is little likelihood another war will be ignited by the June 2 game. But the history is interesting.
I just think that the Washington Post readers are entitled to know. (Maybe Goff will add something on this later.)
And it is another example of how a story can me made more interesting by just a little bit of understanding that local and global events are linked.
UPDATE: Goff commented that the war is an old story and that there have been plenty of Honduras-El Salvador games since 1969. I agree. But it still seems the “Football War” is just one of those fun facts that could be added to an otherwise “dog bites man” story.