On this day: The 'Football War' begins

On this day: The 'Football War' begins
© AP Photos
On this day in 1969, the 'Football War' began between El Salvador and Honduras.

It was on this day in 1969 that a brief battle widely known as the 'Football War' began between El Salvador and Honduras, with fighting lasting for four days.

Although the title widely suggests that the conflict was entirely due to a football issue between the two nations, the cause of the war was largely economic in nature.

The existing tensions between the two countries, which were mainly due to immigration issues, came to light with rioting during qualification for the 1970 World Cup.

Despite Honduras being more than five times the size of their neighbouring country, in 1969 El Salvador had a population that was more than double that of Honduras.

The two countries met in the second North American qualifying round of the 1970 World Cup where rioting and fighting ensued during the 1-0 win for Honduras. The second match, which took place seven days later on June 15, was won 3-0 by El Salvador, with more violence following.

A playoff match took place between the two sides at the end of June, with El Salvador emerging 3-2 winners. That particular fixture proved to be the breaking point between the two countries as all diplomatic ties were quickly dissolved by El Salvador.

A statement from El Salvador revealed its reasons for the severing: "The government of Honduras has not taken any effective measures to punish these crimes which constitute genocide, nor has it given assurances of indemnification or reparations for the damages caused to Salvadorans."

It was not until July 14 that military action began, however, with fighting lasting until the evening of July 18 when the Organization of American States negotiated a ceasefire that took full effect on July 20.

El Salvador suffered 900 casualties during the war, while Honduras lost in the region of 100 combat troops and over 2000 civilians during the four-day battle.

In terms of the present day, Honduras have enjoyed more success on the field with a number of their current players operating at the highest level. Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic), Maynor Figueroa (Hull City), Wilson Palacios (Stoke City) and Roger Espinoza (Wigan Athletic) are all regular members of the national team.

However, El Salvador have just a handful of their current international squad operating outside of their home nation, with Jaime Alas (Rosenberg) and Ramon Sanchez (Vostok) among the players who have received call-ups to the senior team in the last 12 months.

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