Have any countries at war played each other in International competition?

In the history of the World Cup, (or other sporting competitions where teams compete as a country not as themselves), has there ever been a case where 2 sides involved in an actual declared shooting war have faced each other across a football (or rugby, cricket etc.) pitch?

Most countries don’t declare war, the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan weren’t wars despite the death of close to a million all told.

Maybe define ‘conflict’?

I’m not sure if it counts but there was the Death Match in 1942 between a Kiev football team and a team of players from the German Armed Forces then occupying the country.

In the 1956 Olympics Hungary played the Soviet Union in water polo a month after the Hungarian Revolution was suppressed


1999 Cricket World Cup, India v Pakistan.

East Germany played West Germany in the 1974 World Cup. East Germany won 1-0.

Another one: North Korea played South Korea in the 1980 AFC Asian Cup. South Korea won 2-1. This is perhaps a better example, since the two countries have technically been at war (albeit a “cold” one, with a ceasefire in effect) since 1950.

Not international and not in an international tournament, but…

The Baltic conflict was “unofficially started by a football match”.

Zvonimir Boban is an ex-Croatian player and he kicked a Yugoslav policeman who had attacked a Zagreb player. This caused a riot and the start of the war soon after.



I’m not sure if this qualifies, but what about the Christmas Truce? It was unofficial, but they did play a game of soccer.

It might also be fair game to consider any number of the Olympic games played between the US and the Soviets. The circumstances are rather unique, but a cold war is still a kind of war.

There was also this unfortunate conflict: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soccer_War

Argentina participated in the 1982 World Cup along with three teams (England, Scotland & Northern Ireland) from the UK. The tournament started on June 13, 1982, the day before the surrender of Argentine forces on the Falkland Islands. However Argentina was drawn in a different group to the three UK teams and didn’t actually play any of them.


Nah, the Lithuanians were so pissed that they declared independence. They actually did so a year earlier, but forgot. :wink:

Didn’t Slovenia declare independence slightly before or at the same time as Croatia? It seems overstating to lay it at one athlete’s feet. Perhaps it’s better to say he inspired patriotic support for the war.

Declared or not, they were certainly wars. A war is not defined by whether or not you think it’s “declared.”

Yes, but the OP said “actual declared shooting war.”

Maybe, but the OP’s question after all does state declared wars so for the purposes of this thread, that’s what we’re discussing right? I think that PrettyVacant’s point about most wars not being declared is saying that it’s going to be harder to find examples that meet the OP’s criteria which seems fair. I have no idea what the point was with those particular examples of undeclared conflicts are though; have we played one of those teams recently or something?

:smack: D’oh

As far as I know, the last declaration of war was in 1945 when the USSR declared war on Japan in the closing days of WWII. Even if you don’t count wars of independence (which generally don’t require a DofW) there’ve been hundreds of conflicts since then without a formal declaration.

Oddly enough, the History Channel disagrees. Wikipedia is technically correct, but I’m more inclined to agree with the History Channel. I mean, Bush delivered an ultimatum to Saddam. If that’s not a declaration of war, I don’t know what is.

Obviously, this is just the info on the U.S. One could make a reasonable case for many other (technically) conflicts to be deemed wars.

Under the U.S. Constitution, only Congress can declare war. The last time we did that was when the U.S. entered WWII.