How politicians have used football in the blame game

Harold Wilson waves as he leaves No. 10 Downing Street. Credit: PA

The Ukrainian president has claimed that the political crisis currently engulfing his country was sparked by former England captain John Terry.

Viktor Yanukovych said the defender's clearance that led to a 'goal' being disallowed during a crucial Euro 2012 qualifier is a key reason why he resents the European Union.

Read: Ukraine's leader blames John Terry for political woes

However, it is not the first time a politician has used the beautiful game in a blame game - here are three other events that football has been blamed for.

The Football War

Despite being named the 'Football War', tensions between El Salvador and Honduras were already high due to the distribution of land and immigration.

Many Salvadorans left their over-populated country for neighbouring Honduras which is much more sparse. The Salvadoran immigrants made up around 20% of the peasant population in Honduras.

An ex-Honduran soldier and veteran of the 'Football War' attends a memorial in 2003. Credit: REUTERS/Daniel LeClair

Many people were left displaced after after a law was passed in 1967 that ensured any land occupied illegally by immigrants was given back to native-born Hondurans.

Tensions reached boiling point during qualifiers for the 1970 World Cup. Both sides were bidding to become the first country from Central America to play in football's most prestigious tournament.

It started with a 1-0 win to Honduras, which led to an 18-year-old Salvadoran shooting herself because she "could not bear to see her fatherland brought to its knees", newspaper El Nacional wrote the next day.

The second-leg saw El Salvador comfortably win 3-0 with violence before the game marring the result. However, a match game was needed because goal difference was not a rule in those qualifiers.

In Mexico City, El Salvador won the third game 3-2 after 120 minutes, but a war of words began between the countries who called each other "Nazis", "sadists" and "thieves", according to Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski, talking to ESPN.

Just two weeks after the match El Salvador invaded Honduras and the conflict lasted four days, leaving 6,000 people dead before a ceasefire was agreed.

A lost General Election

Labour leader Harold Wilson surprisingly lost the 1970 General Election just four days after England were dumped out of the World Cup by West Germany in the quarter-finals.

Harold Wilson waves as he leaves No. 10 Downing Street. Credit: PA

Edward Heath's Conservatives gained a 65 seat majority after being more than seven points behind in the polls just weeks before the poll, while world champions England were beaten 3-2 in extra time after a poor performance from goalkeeper Peter Bonetti.

Wilson dismissed the notion that his election loss and England's World Cup failings were linked, saying: "Governance of a country has nothing to do with a study of its football fixtures."

However, the connection between Wilson's woes and England's shock loss was given some credence by two former Cabinet ministers.

Gerd Muller scores the winning goal for West Germany against Peter Bonetti. Credit: DPA

Then Defence Minister, and later Chancellor, Denis Healey revealed in his memoirs that in April 1970 Wilson had called a meeting "in which Harold asked us to consider whether the government would suffer if the England footballers were defeated on the eve of polling day."

Wilson's minister of sport Denis Howell went one step further and said in his book: "The moment goalkeeper Bonetti made his third and final hash of it on the Sunday, everything simultaneously began to go wrong for Labour for the following Thursday."

'Betraying' a dictator

North Korea qualified for the 2010 World Cup by finishing ahead of Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - the first time they had appeared in the prestigious tournament since 1966.

They were drawn in a tough group but showed some resilience in their first match with a 2-1 loss to Brazil. That encouraging loss led to the secretive state deciding to broadcast the Portugal match live.

The Portuguese were much more ruthless than the Brazilians, beating North Korea 7-0 and in the final group match Ivory Coast beat the secretive state 3-0.

Jong Tae Se of North Korea challenges Bruno Alves of Portugal during the World Cup. Credit: Ryan Wilkisky/Sports Inc

The team were reportedly subjected to a six-hour public inquisition over their World Cup performances and the players were apparently forced to blame the head coach for the defeats.

Read: Former US basketball star Dennis Rodman defends Kim Jong-un

Manager Kim Jong-hun was accused of "betraying" the then-heir apparent Kim Jong-un and was reportedly forced to become a builder and expelled from the Workers' Party of Korea.

North Korea fans in the stands during a match against Portugal. Credit: EMPICS Sport

Previous athletes who were considered to have let down the North Korean regime were sent to prison camps, according to a South Korean news agency citing an intelligence source.

Fortunately for the current North Korean head coach Yun Jong-Su, his side failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.