Thursday, November 20, 2008

Soccer Shenanigans

Honduras is a soccer-crazed nation. How crazed? The only war Honduras fought in the last 100+ years was over soccer. That's about as fanatical as you can get about a sport, I think.

Last night Honduras played arch-rival Mexico in the last match of the first round of pool play to qualify for the world cup. This was not an elimination game, but it certainly felt like it. Honduras hasn't qualified for the World Cup in decades, and almost always because they were eliminated by Mexico. On top of that, Mexico habitually insults Honduras, considering them an insignificant team in international competitions.

During the game Trujillo looked like a ghost town. I got dinner from a normally-busy street vendor and was the only customer there. On my way back, Honduras scored a goal and several people came out to fire guns into the air. After a few minutes the streets were empty and quiet once again.

Until the game ended. I was amazed at the scale and energy of the postgame celebrations after Honduras beat Mexico 1-0. Hundreds of people streamed from bars and houses, yelling and chanting, whistling and blowing horns. They sported jerseys, facepaint, honduran flags. Everyone loaded into cars, pickup trucks, dump trucks and anything else with wheels. They formed a parade around the central park. Motorcycles weaved between the larger vehicles and trucks swayed under the mass of humanity that covered them and overflowed from doors, windows and truck beds.

It was quite a sight, and pretty dangerous. In the space of 20 minutes I saw two car accidents (no one hurt, luckily) and one kid fall from the back of a dumptruck and injure himself badly enough that he was taken to the hospital. None of this diminished the celebratory mood, however. A girl I know was in one of the car accidents and just got out and continued celbrating.

I've never seen celebrations in the USA reach such a fevered pitch. Super Bowls and Obama's victory probably come closest.


Paul Kremer said...

It's mostly because sports in the United States are not the US against another country. Fans of soccer games get frequently violent because they ignite nationalistic and racial overtones. Honduras versus Mexico takes on some extreme importance, while somehow the Green Bay (USA) Packers versus the Tennessee (USA) Titans doesn't ignite the same nationalistic emotions.

Even in the Olympics, the US so frequently is a dominating force in the medals that even the US beating another country hardly creates those feelings in Americans. It's an arrogance..."We won? Of course we won." :)

lola said...

Cualquier pais puede ganarle a Honduras en soccer. We handle it fine, as long as it's not Mexico.

Anonymous said...

come on honduras kick ass on mexico all the continent know......HONDURAS!!

Anonymous said...

soccer in honduras is like.....when a war is over you feel happy and relax here in honduras soccer is like a distraction from the goverment taxes work is just a way to relax