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 Poland in 2015 between Slask Wroclaw and Lechia Gdansk when 1,005 disabled fans attended the game.
- 19Ramos Marchi
- 20da Silva SantosBooked in 12 minutesReplaced forsilva roseat the 45′minutes
- 5RodriguezBooked in 77 minutesReplaced forGonzalezat the 90′minutesBooked in 90 minutes
- 14Guilherme Carvalho
- 10ChannelsReplaced forMirandaat the 45′minutes
- 7JuanmiReplaced forSanchez Rodriguezat the 81′minutes
- 21perezReplaced forDaSilvaat the 81′minutes
- 11silva rose
- 13Dantas da Silva
- 17Sanchez Rodriguez
- 25Martin Fernandez
- 1MasipReplaced forAcevesat the 78′minutes
- twoperezBooked in 79 minutes
- 20honglaBooked in 89 minutes
- 5Sanchez de FelipeBooked in 5 minutesReplaced forWatered downat the 45′minutesBooked in 55 minutes
- 8Rodriguez JimenezBooked in 55 minutes
- 4Perez MunozReplaced forsanchezat the 71′minutes
- 10flatReplaced forlionat the 80′minutes
- 22MachisReplaced forEl Yamiqat the 45′minutes
- 6Watered down
- 15El Yamiq
- Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz
End of match, Real Betis 2, Real Valladolid 1.
Second Half ends, Real Betis 2, Real Valladolid 1.
Corner, Real Valladolid. Conceded by Juan Miranda.
Corner, Real Valladolid. Conceded by Edgar González.
Jawad El Yamiq (Real Valladolid) wins a free kick in the defensive midfield.
Foul committed by Nabil Fekir (Real Betis).
Failed attempt. Iván Sánchez (Real Valladolid) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.
Attempt saved. William Carvalho (Real Betis) right footed shot from the center of the box.
Attempt saved. Willian José (Real Betis) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Guilherme Carvalho.
Offside, Real Valladolid. Sergio León attempts a deep pass, but Gonzalo Plata is offside.
Attempt blocked. Attempt blocked. Sergio León (Real Valladolid) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Álvaro Aguado.
Failed attempt. Jawad El Yamiq (Real Valladolid) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Álvaro Aguado.
Edgar González (Real Betis) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Álvaro Aguado (Real Valladolid) wins a free kick in the defensive midfield.
Foul committed by Edgar González (Real Betis).
Attempt saved. Shot saved in the center of the goal. Luiz Henrique (Real Betis) left footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Nabil Fekir.
Real Betis replacement. Edgar González replaces Guido Rodríguez.
Martin Hongla (Real Valladolid) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul committed by Martin Hongla (Real Valladolid).
Willian José (Real Betis) wins a free kick on the left wing.