Honduras Uses Soccer Triumph in Crisis

By | October 30, 2009

We have talked a great deal about political leaders exploiting key soccer victories (and losses), creating points of national honor, using soccer as a form of colonial control, or misguidedly glorifying it to the point where it acts as a veneer for a country’s deeply ingrained social and economic problems.   And Honduras is no exception: it is perhaps the most extreme example of intertwined destinies and complex historical interactions.  A coup stemming from a longstanding political crisis is dividing the country’s two rival leaders, and the leaders have been exploiting soccer – and more specifically the most recent win – as they mollify celebrations amid their own political ploys.  The ploys are aimed purely for their own short-sighted progress.

Honduras beat El Salvador on Oct. 14 and the U.S.’s tie with Costa Rica has propelled Honduras into a guaranteed spot in South Africa.

The players thought they were heading to  Tegucigalpa’s cathedral right after their win, but instead they made a “detour to the presidential palace where Micheletti has set up his government.”

“We had no idea the bus was going to the presidential palace, we thought it was headed to the church,” Turcios said.

More worrisome is the fact that the head of the national team selection committee, Ferrari, is also the owner of the largest media outlets in Honduras and a supporter of Micheletti.  It seems as though the media has not yet discovered its boundaries and is still a pivotal force in many Latin American countries.

There has been speculation that the team’s directors are actually part of the coup themselves because they see personal gains in the results.

What if this type of underhanded ploy were discovered in the United States, in a conspicuous league?  What kind of vicious reaction could it generate, and could any sort of “negotiations” fix the crisis?

Still, Honduran citizens would rather not get entangled in the political vines:

“You ask ten people what they would rather talk about — soccer or politics, nine out of ten will say soccer,” he said.


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