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War of 1969
On June 8, 1969, soccer teams from Honduras and El Salvador met for a World Cup qualifying match in Tegucigalpa. El Salvador lost 1-0 in overtime, and an undeclared war between the two nations was sparked.
The bitterly fought match was followed by a night of fighting between the respective fans, and by the stadium being set afire.
When the Honduran team went to San Salvador for the second match, it was "greeted" with derision by Salvadoreans, and the hotel in which the team was staying was set afire. No one was hurt in the fire, but the team was left so exhausted by its ordeal that it was easily beaten by the Salvadorean team. After the game, cars were set afire in the streets, store windows were broken, and local hospitals set new attendance records. And, as the Honduran team headed home, it was booed and, in some cases, stoned.
The treatment of the soccer team sparked Honduran attacks on Salvadorean immigrants living in Tegucigalpa. The attacks soon spread into the Honduran interior, forcing some 17,000 Salvadorean refugees to flee back to El Salvador. On June 26, El Salvador broke diplomatic relations with Honduras, which followed suit the next day.
On July 14, Honduran planes were reported to have carried out strafing runs in Salvadorean territory. El Salvador retaliated with air attacks and an invasion. The Hondurans were outmanned and outgunned on the ground, but easily defeated the Salvadoreans in the air. The Organization of American States was able to arrange a cease-fire on July 20, but by then some 6,000 persons had been killed, 12,000 had been wounded, and 50,000 had been left homeless.
Left: Honduran troops grimly view the bodies of Salvadorean victims of the Soccer War.
This page was last updated on 01/10/2017.