Political climate worsens in Honduras days before USA World Cup qualifier (UPDATED)

HondurasCoup (GettyImages)

The USA-Honduras World Cup qualifier set for Oct. 10 in Honduras is still set to be played in San Pedro Sula, but continued political upheaval is making it far from a certainty with fewer than two weeks to go.

The acting Honduran government has issued an emergency order allowing authorities to limit constitutional rights such as freedoms of expression, travel and gathering in public. The government closed two television stations on Monday that were considered supporters of ousted president Jose Manuel Zelaya, who has stirred things up in his native country by returning to Honduras after having been exiled.

What does this all mean in soccer terms?

Right now the U.S. Soccer Federation isn't making comment yet, but with less than two weeks to go before the USA-Honduras qualifier, and with this week's CONCACAF Champions League match between Mexican club Toluca and CD Marathon being suspended, the chances of the qualifier being moved or postponed are growing. (According to CONCACAF, Toluca and Marathon were notified early on Monday evening that Thursday's match WILL be played, and will not be postponed).

With political protests expected to take place this week, if things worsen, and if protests go from peaceful to violent, the unstable situation in the country could make holding a soccer match there unlikely.

As far as the World Cup qualifier goes, as of Monday no decision has been made about moving it and FIFA has stated its preference of holding the match in Honduras. FIFA will make the ultimate decision, with input from the federations and CONCACAF.

What do you think of this development? Starting to think the game won't be played in Honduras? Did you have plans to travel to Honduras? Still hoping the match is moved to the United States?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in CONCACAF, U.S. Men's National Team, World Cup Qualifying. Bookmark the permalink.

71 Responses to Political climate worsens in Honduras days before USA World Cup qualifier (UPDATED)

  1. Aaron says:

    If the game were to be moved to say…El Salvador, would both teams booed the entire time? Gringo’s – obviously we’re disliked, but Honduras is a main rival in every fashion with El Salvador.

  2. PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo says:

    Wow, I seriously would have bet that this would have gone away by now…but it keeps escalating.

    It would be a shame for Honduras not to get a home game, even a ‘no fans’ allowed home game.

  3. attenborough says:

    Wait, no one was actually planning on going to Honduras were they? Because good lord…

  4. kebzach says:

    USA vs Honduras @ Costa Rica

    (SBI-I’d LOVE that, too bad there’s already a qualifier in Costa Rica that day. Guatemala looks like a better bet.)

  5. wilbur06 says:

    unable to travel or gather in public? could be a fairly empty stadium…

  6. cjbrown says:

    first, I think that we should hope for the best for all of the Hondurans. The ones who were at the game in Chicago in June were great, and I hope their families in Honduras are well. Many of them were nice enough to invite US fans to the game in San Pedro Sula, but at this point, even if I had the means, I would politely decline. I think alternate arrangements must be made now, and probably they are being made as we speak.

    this obviously would be good for the USA, but let’s not forget that Honduras was tough to beat in Chicago. They have a very good team — some say their best ever. In my mind, they deserved a draw in Azteca as much as we did. And look at the great play yesterday in the EPL by Wigan’s Honduran star, Maynor Figueroa.

  7. Jayboy says:

    According to the US State Department, there is not a travel warning (Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, etc have one), but rather a travel “alert.” This makes me think the game will happen. However, I’m mostly concerned about the prospect of a 36 hour trip to get back to the US, after which the team would be exhausted for a critical final game against Costa Rica. It’ll be interesting to see what happens!

  8. afrim says:

    it aint safe no mo

  9. Dudinho says:

    Latin American outlets here in the states keep getting calls from hondurans that say the disturbances are only happening in Tegucigalpa or the southern part of the country. San Pedro Sula according to most accounts is functioning as normal. San Pedro Sula is the Location the game was to be played. In fact the head honcho of the Honduran FA was on ESPN Deportes radio guaranteeing the US teams Safety in San Pedro Sula. The US team is being accused by some very biased hosts, of trying to get an advantage and being scared of playing in Honduras. Some advantage. Were offering to play in El Salvador or Guatemala. It be different if we were trying to play the game in the states. Isn’t the state department pushing the USSF to have the game moved? Were getting pressured by our government, for Safety reasons obviously.

  10. Will says:

    have plans to travel to Honduras? I’m pretty sure the airpot(s?) are closed so the only way to get into the country is to drive, which is why Marathon had to bus to Guatemala to catch their flight to DC last week. Not sure why anyone would have previously wanted to go during this anyway…

  11. AllNats says:

    Big hell no on costa rica. The field at saprissa is a joke.

  12. Dudinho says:

    the beaches in the northern part of the country are home to the Mezo American reef system next to the great barrier reef so if your into snorkling so theres one reason

  13. Dudinho says:

    err i meant to say itsa the secons largest reef next to the great barrier reef

  14. Brian says:

    Big hell no on costa rica. The field at saprissa is a joke.

    Posted by: AllNats | September 28, 2009 at 05:42 PM
    —————————
    Ya seriously, it looks like a giant putting green.

  15. bernini says:

    Bigger issue is the unavailability of broadcast. Pathetic that it is not even on pay-per-view….

    I hope they move it and put it on the teevee !

  16. metrometro says:

    what are they doing with that mixing console?

  17. Blake says:

    Honestly, if Honduras just claimed gate revenue from whatever neutral location, Soldier Field is as good as any…They’d have a fan advantage and make way more bank than they would even at San Pedro.

  18. Austin says:

    cool, lets get the best honduran league players to mls

    lol

  19. DWE4 says:

    RFK people….Honduras’ home away from home.

  20. The metro says:

    Playing in the states would be too much, imagine they lost, they’d never forget it, and rightly so. Play it at Jalisco in Mexico, or maybe at BMO in Toronto. You can’t play it in Honduras, and El Sal is pretty poor option. Bummer for Honduras, but I don’t see delaying the game as fair to the US, and Honduras could be under this coup for months.

  21. Andrew says:

    Re: The mixing console

    The government tried shutting independent tv stations down a few months ago, but this time the coup’s government had the military confiscate equipment.

  22. Toumba says:

    A location in which we get 3 points is a good location. That is the one I want. Can we somehow get them to agree on that?….Send in Ari Gold to negotiate.

  23. Northzax says:

    No matter where they put the game, the tv situation won’t change. Home federations own the global tv rights to international matches, even in the opposing countries. They can sell them to whoever they want, and are usually sold in bulk. If you want the US-Honduras rights in the US, you also have to buy the Honduras-T&T game, the entire Hex. I bet US soccer does the same thing in Honduras.

    Just find a ‘neutral’ site and be done with it. I don’t care if the problems aren’t in San Pedro Sula, Honduras is a mess and should be avoided.

    I don’t read Spanish well, does it mention when the Toluca-Marathon match will be played? If it’s suspended for more than a week, doesn’t that mess up group play and the potential matchups for the quarters? The final group matches have to be played simultaneously, right? That should be DCU@Toluca and Marathon@San Juan Jabloteh, otherwise it lets Toluca pick the team between DCU and Marathon who advances?

  24. Felix says:

    For one, as someone who is partly from Central American descent, I’m saddened that in this day and age, a Central American nation has reverted to these types of authoritarian measures.

    However, it could prove to be beneficial to the USMNT, if the game is moved to a neutral site, the US will escape not having to play in Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano, where Honduras haven’t dropped a single point throughout this qualification cycle.

  25. DeLarge says:

    Jamaica anyone?

    Last time I checked, neutral meant a site without any inherent advantage for either team. Neither team gets one on Jamaican soil.

  26. Martek says:

    The Toluca-Marathon game can be moved for a while. Remember that Hurricane Ike in 2008 forced the postponement of the Dynamo qualifier with San Francisco from September all the way to the night before Thanksgiving. So no worries there.

    And the line about San Pedro Sula being away from Tegucigalpa just won’t wash. There’s no international airport there. You fly in and out of the capital. Flying to Guatemala City and bussing all the way to SP Sula is madness. FIFA and CONCACAF need to step in here and force a change so people will not blame the US. (And if that means the coup leaders look bad, then that’s all for the good.)

    Panama, Costa Rica (non Estadio Saprissa), Guatemala and Jalisco all look like good options. Coming to the US would be unfair.

  27. Rastafari says:

    Vancouver.. no games at Swangard after the 4th of oct

    link to whitecapsfc.com

  28. MarkHN says:

    Hey everyone, I´m from Honduras and am really sad to see all this $h17 happening to my country.

    We also don´t know if the game is going to be held in San Pedro Sula, but according to FENAFUTH the game is still going to be there.

    Most of the events occur in Tegucigalpa, in San Pedro Sula haven´t been any things going on recently.

    I think that if the game is moved to another country it would be Guatemala, because they aren´t playing qualifiers, and also is one of our neighbouring countries.

    I hope all of these events end as quick as possible, this “government” is a big crap.

    Good bye everyone and let´s hope both Honduras and USA qualify to the World Cup!

    Greetings from Tegucigalpa.

  29. dena says:

    Swangard? Are you kidding? Isnt their capacity like 8k

  30. Zaggy says:

    Vancouver.. no games at Swangard after the 4th of oct

    link to whitecapsfc.com

    ———-

    You realize Swangard holds like 5k right?

  31. KCB says:

    Kansas City! (I wish)

    I’m just hoping it’s not Saprissa. That field is crapturf.

  32. Mark says:

    i live in tegucigalpa. i travel about each and every day and it is not nearly as bad as the media is making it out to be. are there some demonstrations and difficulties? yes, but it is usually isolated to wherever the demonstration is. there is a very good chance the decree to suspend civil liberties will be withdrawn before it ever goes to vote in the congress.

    if there is anything that unifies hondurans, it is the national team. they need this game to be here…. they really “need” to qualify for the world cup. it would be a great unifer for the people. i hope the game is here and i encourage fans to come. you will not be disappointed in the atmosphere you will encounter. the honduran people are very friendly and very passionate.

  33. julio says:

    How about Azteca stadium??? Take a crack at it with Mexicans there supporting Honduras? No they won’t since they want to gurantee at least a second place (for pride) to finish ahead of Honduras. It would a great test for the US to sychologically (spell check needed) try and just win a game against a formal foe. Ok now that I stoped drinking and came to my senses this is a bad Idea. Seriously S.Blatter is a criminal for making the US go to a territory that is hostile, but than again when have you seen the rest of the world have some sympathy for us (spell check needed). GO US!!!!!! no matter where, we will beat that @ss.

  34. julio says:

    I was kidding about AZTECA, hope nobody took it seriously, that place is way to high and polution is out of hand. I was just throwing it out there since someone said Saprissa Stadium which is a dump of a field.

  35. JR says:

    If moved the stadium I want is Atlante’s stadium in Cancun. That stadium in Guatemala City was really dark when the U.S. played there in the semifinal round.

  36. ElGodSoyMe says:

    I wish they would move it to the LA Coliseum, but thats probably not going to happen.

  37. Rastafari says:

    Vancouver.. no games at Swangard after the 4th of oct

    link to whitecapsfc.com

    ———-

    You realize Swangard holds like 5k right?

    —-
    Like anyone outside of washington is gonna go..?

  38. Nicole says:

    They should play it in an empty Azteca. That way both teams are equally affected.

  39. Never First says:

    Bigger issue is the unavailability of broadcast. Pathetic that it is not even on pay-per-view….

    I hope they move it and put it on the teevee !

    Posted by: bernini | September 28, 2009 at 05:46 PM

    —————————————

    A bigger issue than a government being overthrown and the leader of a nation being sent into exile is whether you can watch a soccer game on TV? I hope this is just a poor attempt at humor.

  40. Bob Bradley For Life! says:

    “send in Ari Gold to negotiate”?

    Now that is dark — and magificent.

  41. golfstrom says:

    first they came for the DJs…

    (SBI-WOW, pure genius Golfstrom.)

  42. jpc says:

    This is why CONCACAF isn’t the cake walk region some make it out to be. Playing on the road is literally a dangerous proposition in many instances… I would much rather qualify out of Asia, Oceana, or European groups 1-3

  43. The Atomizer says:

    first they came for the DJs…

    Posted by: golfstrom | September 28, 2009 at 09:07 PM

    —–
    Quite possibly the funniest thing I ever read on this website. Cheers!

  44. notahonduranexpert says:

    correct me if i’m wrong,didn’t Zelaya defy an order from the supreme court and the congress(or their equivalence)

  45. notahonduranexpert says:

    could a Honduran answer this, and not sal the smart arse from lodi

  46. honduran-american says:

    link to laprensa.hn

    There’s a link to the US Congress report on the political happenings in Honduras.

    Martek, get your facts straight. San Pedro Sula does have an international airport. There are direct flights from Dallas, Houston, Miami, and I’m sure there are other places.

  47. notsweet81 says:

    Ummm…actually San Pedro Sula has an international airport that receives flights from Miami, DC, and I think Atlanta daily…of course commercial flights have been suspended before and could be suspended any time.

    Not saying it should be played in Hondu, but get the facts right

  48. notahonduranexpert says:

    no offense, but i don’t really trust the us congress’ report. thanks though

  49. Mason says:

    no offense, but i don’t really trust the us congress’ report. thanks though
    ===

    Just a hunch, but the only place you’re going to find that conforms with your worldview is below:

    link to tinyurl.com

    Do remember to keep the comments football/soccer related here, though.

  50. Blokhin says:

    how is qualifying through Asia any better than this? imagine road trips to Iran, iraq, North Korea… I think I’d take Honduras any day…

  51. Theverybest says:

    Mexico will be playing at azteca that day. But if they want to play in mexico city they could play at cruz azul or pumas. They could also play in chiapas.

  52. Oranje Mike says:

    Would the match have to take place in a CONCACAF nation if moved? Brazil might not be a bad option. If it stays in CONCACAF, what about Canada?

  53. Trent says:

    Limiting constitutional rights and closing down tv stations that oppose the current form of govt. sounds like what the Obama administration is trying to do here.

  54. Matt C says:

    spare us the political commentary! I’m sure there’s some political blog out there for that sort of thing.

    as for the match, which is what we’re here to discuss, I’m very concerned. If Honduras can’t guarantee safety, the match should be moved. FIFA should intervene and force this issue.

  55. DC Josh says:

    You have to ask yourself, would I feel safe traveling there? If not, then they shouldn’t play. The teams safety, both of them, is most important. Who cares about the officials? Not CONCACAF. This will continue to escelate. There is no way it gets better.

    Let them play in Azteca.

  56. DJ Barnett says:

    I find it humerous that people only want to talk about a soccer game and not the political aspects of what is going on in Honduras when clearly the soccer game is being directly effected by these same political events. No political uprising=no discussion on whether or not this soccer game is going to happen as scheduled months ago. I am usually one to steer clear of political discussions but in this case the political aspect is the discussion for this match due to it’s impact on the match, so far. Because we all know once that whistle blows it better be 3 points for the USA no matter where this game is played or under what circumstances it is played!!!

  57. timmyg says:

    Would playing in Jim Rome’s backyard be a neutral ground? He hates soccer so he wouldn’t root for anyone.

  58. GT says:

    First they came for the DJs… classic.

  59. notahonduranexpert says:

    @mason “Just a hunch, but the only place you’re going to find that conforms with your worldview is below:

    link to tinyurl.com

    Do remember to keep the comments football/soccer related here, though.”

    NAME OF POST:
    “Political climate worsens in Honduras days before USA World Cup qualifier”

    THUS POLITICS IS IN THE DISCUSSION

    How do you know what my “world view” is or isn’t ? I asked a simple question directed at one or two readers FROM Honduras, i am going to the match, and want REAL info.
    SECONDLY the post discusses the political situation and it’s ramifications on the match. Perhaps you should read “soccer against the enemy” by Simon Kuper, and discover that the two are often intertwined. Finally, don’t tell me what to “remember” to write about or not. If you don’t like it, don’t read it and certainly don’t leave your snippy assumptive judgement.

  60. Daniel Gleesack says:

    in Honduras… behind closed doors… closed circuit tv only… would be very unique

  61. rkupp says:

    If the illegitimate government is instilling curfews, etc. to limit protests, the game itself would draw a large, uncontrollable crowd out – and thus be a threat to the government.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the fake government wants the game moved, but needs to do it behind the scenes in order to avoid the blame.

  62. jh says:

    Why do some idiots on here (see DeLarge above) seem to think that the powers-that-be are going to move this game to a “site without any inherent advantage for either team?” If the match is moved, why should it be to a “neutral” site? Hopefully, if the match is moved, it will be to a place/setting that gives Honduras some sort of home field advantage. This is, after all, supposed to be a home game for Honduras.

    Besides, we US supporters shouldn’t be hoping to get any undeserved advantages. This team needs to be tested on the road and show they have the ability/cojones to win/compete in a hostile atmosphere, something they’ve failed to do so far in this leg of the competition. Let’s stop hoping for advantages and instead hope the political climate down there improves so we can see the boys tested in a hostile environment.

  63. Mason says:

    notahonduranexpert –

    “no offense, but i don’t really trust the us congress’ report. thanks though” is all I need to know about you and your political views. You’re anti-establishment. That’s cool, but you have absolutely no reason not to trust that report other than a general distrust of the US Congress. Now, had you said that it’s not useful, I would completely understand. That report is a very, very dry legal briefing about the legal situation surround the coup, and would be next to useless for someone who want to know about the situation on the ground. That’s not what you said, though. You reflexively stated that you don’t trust congress. That, in this case, is foolish, as they commissioned their library to look into the legal justifications for the coup, and viewed from that perspective, it is a very illuminating report.

    I’m afraid you don’t understand what I mean by, “Don’t talk politics”. I’m sure you’re aware that there is debate as to the legality of the current Honduran Gov’t and it’s rise to power. Unfortunately, such debate usually devolves into a pointless flame-war with both sides pointing to imperfect translations of the Honduran Constitution. It’s best avoided.

  64. chupacabra says:

    >Jamaica anyone?

    Last time I checked, neutral meant a site without any inherent advantage for either team. Neither team gets one on Jamaican soil.

    Posted by: DeLarge

    It the match was held in Jamaica Dempsey would end up so stoned that he’d just lie down face down on the pitch and try the occasional back heel flick whenever the ball rolled his way. Advantage: Honduras

  65. Mason says:

    No political uprising=no discussion on whether or not this soccer game is going to happen as scheduled months ago.
    ==

    Absolutely, DJBarret.

    I would only suggest that there is a difference between acknowledging the political nature and discussing the political nature. In other words, it is not necessary to discuss whether it was a coup, or a legal removal of a rogue president, but rather it is sufficient to accept that there is currently political instability and social unrest. Thus, we can avoid the pointless “It was a coup! You’re like Chavez! Fascist! Communist!” back and forth. That kind of thing goes nowhere fast.

  66. Pablo Chicago says:

    Did anyone catch the Honduras qualifier in Chicago? Taking the train in I saw more US fans than Honduran fans, and I was hoping for an even split, but realized US fans would be outnumbered once again as soon as we got close to Soldier Field.

    I’d say it was an 80/20 Honduras/US fan split and I’m being conservative.

    Big advantage to Honduras in terms of fan support and revenue if the match is played in Chicago.

  67. Matt C says:

    DJ Barnett, Trent,

    You’re missing the point. the smart a#$% remark about Obama was not a meaningful contribution to the conversation, nor was this the right forum for that sort of thing. Of course, talking about Honduras’ political situation is the story, and it’s fine.

  68. bernini says:

    @never first

    You woefully misread my comment. Strangely, and more to the point, you added meaning to words that were never in my comment. Sometimes called false equivalence, sometimes called self righteousness, not sure what track you are taking.

    Ives post was for all intents and purposes about a game moving or not moving. This is a soccer blog. Hence my commentary was predicated on the basis that I don’t care if they MOVE the game or DO NOT MOVE the game, I just want to WATCH THE GAME, wherever it is played. I made no judgment on the political situation in Honduras. Frankly, I do not know enough about it to comment intelligently. I’m just a dolt that likes to act locally and also enjoys watching the nats.

  69. notahonduranexpert says:

    @mason… your assumption that i am “anti-establishment ” because i don’t trust the congress’ report is asinine,(if you believe everything they put out then you are a rube). If you knew what i do for a living, that would be impossible. As for your attempted intellectual treatise……..

  70. Tomer Guez says:

    > sychologically (spell check needed) try
    > and just win a g

    There is a good spell check program Spell Check Anywhere (SpellCheckAnywhere.Com). It works in all programs, including blogs and articles. It comes with an optional grammar check.

  71. chapin4usa says:

    well im from guatemala and you know deam right i gooo for usa lets do these un guatemala .i be watching from a sport bar in atlanta