El Salvador-Honduras rivalry was real war
July 1969: in what was to become known as 'the football war', two matches between Honduras and El Salvador played a part in causing a brief but bloody war between the central American neighbours. Tensions were already high between the two countries over immigration and border issues when the two games were played, each side winning at home. 'We're lucky we lost,' said the Honduran coach after the game in El Salvador. Both country's press claimed abuse of its citizens abroad increasing tensions further. On July 14, 1969 a four day war broke out. By the end of it, around 3,000 people had been killed.
Ivory Coast - a game to end a war
October 2005: Didier Drogba, Ivory Coast’s - and arguably Africa’s - most celebrated player, picked up a microphone in the dressing room following the country’s win securing qualification for the World Cup, and live on national television and surrounded by his team-mates, fell to his knees to beg both Ivory Coast's warring factions to lay down their arms. Within a week, the country’s five year civil war was over.
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Togo team targeted by rebels
January 2010: During the African Cup of Nations tournament in Angola, the Togo football team bus crossed from its base in the Republic of Congo into Angola's oil-rich territory of Cabinda for its first game. The bus is soon machine-gunned by Cabinda rebels who have been fighting for the region's independence. Three team staff were killed and nine injured, including two players. Togo pulled out of the tournament and, controversially were banned from future tournaments for not playing. The ban was later overturned.
Algeria and Egypt battle off the pitch
November 2009. Algeria travel to Egypt for a decisive World Cup match. The Algerian team bus is stoned by Egyptian fans and three players injured. In the following match, Algerian fans retaliate and injure at least 20 Egyptian fans. Egypt withdraws its ambassador to Algeria. Attacks target rival nationality companies in each country. The Arab League invites Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi to mediate between the countries.
Balkans fights presage war
May 1990: in what many saw as a foretaste of coming problems, a match between Serbian Red Star Belgrade and Croatian Dinamo Zagreb descended into an ethnically-based riot. Yugoslavia's first multi-party elections in 50 years had just taken place, raising nationalist and independence sentiment. At the game, Red Star fans taunted their rivals and then attacked their fans. The Dinamo fans responded by surging on to the pitch and running battles took place for over an hour as the police struggled to control the violence. By the end, 60 people were injured, some having been stabbed or shot.
Norway votes with its boots
Norway, 1940. The Norwegians used sport to show their rejection of the Nazi occuping forces. The Germans had dissolved all the national and local sports associations and established their own new ones. But the Norwegians boycotted them and any 'puppet' events. The attendance at the 1942 cup final was just 27 people.