In 1969 rioting by fans during a World Cup match between Honduras and El Salvador appeared to trigger a four-day military conflict –the so-called football war. In fact, the Salvadoran generals merely used the rioting as a convenient occasion for launching a planned attack on Honduras. The main cause of tension was land disputes between Salvadoran migrants in Honduras and local farmers.
Nevertheless, competitive sports like football do have connections with war. The Duke of Wellington is supposed to have said that the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton. The connections are especially striking where competing teams represent different nations and the memory of past wars is still fresh –or is artificially revived by nationalist politicians and publicists.