19 March, 2008

The Power of Spite Compels You

It would be a severe understatement to say that Central American countries take their football pretty seriously. They take tacos and Catholicism ‘pretty seriously;’ football is a matter of life and death, often quite literally. A brief glance back through the history books tells us that in 1969 El Salvador and Honduras actually fought the 100-Hours War after rioting at a football match between the two countries sparked the conflict. While some sources may tell you that the war was actually caused by complex political differences between the neighbours, including immigration issues from El Salvador to Honduras, the actual truth is that the Hondurans just got a dodgy penalty in the 90th minute and thus all hell broke loose.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. I doubt any of you remember, but two years ago during the final round of CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) World Cup qualifying, Guatemala needed Mexico to get a draw against Trinidad & Tobago to have a shot at finishing fourth in their group and therefore making it into the play-offs against Bahrain. However, since Mexico had already earned its qualification spot, they decided to field a severely weakened side against Trinidad & Tobago, who subsequently won the match 2 - 1 and thus eliminated Guatemala altogether.

Now apparently the Guatemalans have very good memories, and sure can hold a grudge, because having put Mexico to the sword 2 – 1 this past Friday in the penultimate round of CONCACAF Olympic qualifiers, they basically threw their final group match against Canada just to screw over Mexico. The lacklustre Canadians were allowed to score 5 goals against Guatemala, leaving Mexico in the difficult position of needing to beat footballing behemoths Haiti by at least six clear goals to advance to the tournament itself. Mexico totally choked though, and since they only won 5 – 1, are now out of the competition and will have to watch the hi-jinks from Beijing this summer back home in a cheap strip club (maybe).

There’s something about this kind of commitment to fucking someone over just to satisfy one’s own thirst for revenge that really warms the heart on a cold March day. From personal experience I know the Guatemalans to be a friendly and accomdating race, but let this be a lesson to you: do not spill one of their pints, otherwise in six months time you might wake up wearing your girlfriend’s intestines. I for one cannot freaking wait until Round 3 next year when Guatemala and Mexico meet again in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers, here’s hoping for another 100-Hours War…

Finally, quick thanks to our pals over at withleather.com for the heads up on this excellent tale of national rivalry and playground theatrics. You guys are awesome, awesome to the max.