The use of sports and politics has had both positive and negative implications over history. Sports competitions or activities have had the intention to bring about change in certain cases. Nationalistic fervour is sometimes linked to victories or losses to some sport on sports fields.
While the Olympics is often the biggest political example of using sports for diplomatic means, cricket and association football, as well as other sports in the global arena, have also been used in this regard. In the case of Apartheid, sport was used to isolate South Africa and bring about a major overhaul in the country's social structure. While ethnicity and race can cause division, sports can also help blend differences.
Additionally, numerous athletes have sought political office, some of them unsuccessfully, on either the national level or the sub-national level.
The most infamous declaration of politics and sport was the Football War between El Salvador and Honduras. Though the build-up to the war had to do with more socio-economic issues like immigration and land reform, the impetus for war was an inflammation of tensions set off by rioters during the second North American qualifying round for the 1970 FIFA World Cup. Disturbances broke out during the first game in Tegucigalpa, but the second leg saw the situation get considerably worse in San Salvador. Honduran fans were roughed up, the Honduran flag and national anthem were insulted, and the emotions of both nations became considerably agitated. In retaliation, violence against Salvadoran residents in Honduras, including several Vice Consuls, increased. An unknown number of Salvadorans were killed or brutalized, and tens of thousands began fleeing the country. The press of both nations contributed to a growing climate of near-hysteria, and on June 27, 1969, twelve days after the second-leg game, Honduras broke diplomatic relations with El Salvador. On July 14, 1969, the Salvadoran army launched an attack against Honduras. The Organization of American States negotiated a cease-fire which took effect on July 20, with the Salvadoran troops withdrawn in early August.
Israel was one of the founding members of the Asian Football Confederation following its own independence in 1948 (prior to that it played under the banner of "Palestine/Eretz Yisrael"). After the 1974 Asian Games in Iran (and a tense loss to Iran), Kuwait and other Arab states refused to play them. Following this, they were expelled from the confederation and spent a few years trying to qualify from such continental bodies as the OFC before joining UEFA.
The 2004 AFC Asian Cup held in China made headlines due to events that took place during the final between China and Japan, apparently due to historical relations dating back to World War II (see Second Sino-Japanese War and Nanjing Massacre). As the Japanese national anthem was being played, the home fans expressed their anti-Japanese sentiment by drowning out the national anthem with their chants. The Chinese home fans also continually booed the players, visiting fans and officials as they watched Japan defeat China 3–1. After the match, some Chinese fans rioted outside the Beijing Worker's Stadium.
Once again, on September 6, 2008, Armenia and Turkey faced each other in a 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification match in Yerevan. In an unprecedented step, Turkish President Abdullah Gül was invited to watch the match, where he and his Armenia counterpart, Serzh Sargsyan, sat together, albeit behind bullet-proof glass. However, the Turkish national anthem was almost drowned out by booing from 35,000 Armenian fans, showing there is still a lot of mistrust between the two countries. However, the gesture "between the presidents showed that they believed 'football diplomacy' had achieved the most important result." This was a first for the two countries divided by the legacy of the 20th century's first genocide.