Real Betis 2-1 Real Valladolid: La Liga hosts ‘world’s most inclusive game’

Real Betis fans before the La Liga match against Real Valladolid
Real Betis said a record 1,470 disabled fans attended the home game against Real Valladolid

Real Betis players and fans are hoping that football will become more accessible for fans with disabilities after what they call “the most inclusive game in the world”.

The La Liga game between Real Betis and Real Valladolid on Saturday, which Betis won 2-1, featured several adaptations to make it more accessible for people with disabilities.

They included Betis players wearing personalized kits with the names and numbers in Braille as they left before kick-off.

Betis players wore bibs in the warm-up with symbols to help fans with color blindness and, at half-time, there was a demonstration match with a team of amputee footballers.

Children with special needs acted as pre-match mascots, while the official Betis anthem was also displayed in sign language on the big screen at the Estadio Benito Villamarin.

“I’ve spoken to disabled fans on social media, I see them asking for help and needing a voice,” Betis defender Martin Montoya told BBC Sport.

Alejandro Coello, a Real Betis fan with an intellectual disability, said he now feels like “king of the world” wearing his club’s colors because of the initiative.

Coello feels clubs can do more to make fans with disabilities feel welcome and thinks events organized by Betis for the Valladolid game should be held more regularly in Spain and elsewhere.

Coello, who also plays for the club in La Liga Genuine, a competition for players with learning disabilities, said he often sees fans with more serious disabilities struggling.

“I feel part of the club, there’s a brotherhood. I feel lucky as a supporter and as a disabled person,” he told BBC Sport. “It would be perfect if this inspired other clubs to do the same.

“When I play for Betis (Genuine) I feel like the king of the world, I love wearing the shirt. It’s also great to meet other fans like me.

“I hope people now see us as normal people, we are all human and Betis fans.”

Montoya, a former Barcelona, ​​Inter Milan and Brighton player, said he and his teammates were proud of the club for showing their support for disabled supporters.

“We have a huge platform in football for this type of action. We are one of the few clubs in the world to carry out this type of initiative”, he stated.

“Other clubs around the world – England, Italy – should think about this initiative and copy it, and be more responsible for people with disabilities.

“They are great fans and the team wants to help and support them.

“Players are inspired by that – when I played for Brighton we visited facilities for disabled supporters and I want people to learn about what they need for accessibility.”

The initiative, organized by Betis and the World Football Summit, also made the club break the record for the largest number of fans with disabilities in a match in the national first division, with 1,740 participants.

The record was previously set during a game in Polandexternal link in 2015 between Slask Wroclaw and Lechia Gdansk when 1,005 disabled fans attended the game.


Real Betis

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Real Valladolid

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Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz


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