Football War, the name popularly given to the war between El Salvador and Honduras (14-18 July 1969), so called because the immediate provocation was violence surrounding soccer playoffs between the Salvadoran and Honduran national teams. The real causes lay much deeper, and although the war was brief, it had a lasting impact on Central America.
Domestic problems in both countries, as well as Honduras's dissatisfaction with its position in the Central American Common Market, led to growing tensions between the two neighbors, but the most serious issue was demographic. Since the 1920s, immigrants had left crowded El Salvador to settle in Honduras, which was much less densely inhabited. Many Salvadoran peasants squatted on public lands along the frontier between the two countries, sometimes remaining there for generations without formal title. During the 1960s, as relations worsened, Salvadorans living in Honduras were often the victims of harassment. In 1969, when Honduran president Oswaldo López Arellano attempted to distribute to Honduran peasants government-owned lands already occupied by Salvadorans, the result was a massive exodus back to El Salvador. Returning peasants carried tales of atrocities, which were widely believed.
Mob violence at the soccer games played in San Salvador and Tegucigalpa in June 1969 brought calls for action on both sides of the border. The pressure on Salvadoran president Fidel Sánchez Hernández was particularly intense, coming from military officers anxious for larger budgets and modern equipment and from conservative opponents of land reform, who feared that the repatriation of so many peasants in an already crowded country would lead to greater agitation from the Left. On 26 June, Sánchez Hernández severed diplomatic relations with Honduras, and on 14 July, Salvadoran troops marched into Honduran territory.
The fighting itself lasted only four days. Salvadoran ground troops advanced rapidly, seizing Nueva Ocotepeque and Santa Rosa de Copán along the western border and seeking to position themselves in the east for an assault on Tegucigalpa. But Honduras had air superiority and successfully bombed Salvadoran fuel storage facilities. Finally, on 18 July, under pressure from the United States and the Organization of American States, El Salvador agreed to a cease-fire. The two countries did not agree to final peace terms until 1980. The number of war-related deaths is frequently reported as 2,000, many of them Honduran civilians. Long-term effects included the crippling of the Central American Common Market and the aggravation of the impending social crisis in El Salvador. The return of thousands of landless peasants created demands that contributed to the failure of the political system in the 1970s and the onset of civil war in the 1980s.
The standard work on the war itself is Thomas P. Anderson, The War of the Dispossessed: Honduras and El Salvador, 1969 (1981). For its causes and consequences, see Marco Virgilio Carías and Daniel Slutzky, eds., La guerra inútil: Análisis socioeconómico del conflicto entre Honduras y El Salvador (1971), and William H. Durham, Scarcity and Survival in Central America (1979).
Briscoe, Charles H. Treinta años después. Honduras: s.n., 2000.
"Football War." Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 16, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/football-war
"Football War." Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture. . Retrieved November 16, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/football-war
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.