Fan Experience

Real Betis targets world’s most inclusive football match

Estadio Benito Villamarín in Seville, Spain

Featured image credit: Anual/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size

Spanish LaLiga football club Real Betis Balompié has set out plans to stage the world’s most inclusive match at its Estadio Benito Villamarín.

Betis has joined forces in the venture with Integrated Dreams, a non-profit organisation based in Lisbon, Portugal, which works for the inclusion of disabled people in the sports industry. The event will take place for Betis’ match against Real Valladolid on matchday 22 of the current LaLiga season in the second half of February.

Among the actions that will be organised for the match is a march for inclusion, which will consist of a short walk for fans with functional diversity to the stadium; the presentation of Real Betis Genuine, the club’s team for players with an intellectual disability, at the Benito Villamarín; carrying out surveys to improve the experience and accessibility at the stadium on match days and numerous other activities.

The game also wants to break records by welcoming the largest number of people with functional diversity in the stands of the stadium, a move that Betis hopes can “become a world milestone” in terms of the inclusion of people with disabilities in sport.  

Betis has been working to improve the experience of its fans on match days. The club has a dedicated group of volunteers that is responsible for carrying out the ‘We accompany you to your seat’ service, helping people with disabilities or mobility difficulties to access their place in the stand. 

The club also has accessible ticketing for people in wheelchairs, while, at the end of last season, Betis made sensory packages for people with autism available to its fans on match days, becoming the first LaLiga team to do so.

Ramón Alarcón, general director of business at Real Betis, said: “There is much to improve in terms of architectural barriers. Real Betis is working on it and is also creating new services to improve the experience during match days for fans with functional diversity.

“The intention of this match is to beat the record for people with disabilities in the Benito Villamarín stands and give all the visibility in the world to this group and to the need to offer the spectacle of football in a 100% accessible way.”

The venture is being backed by Betis’ home city of Seville. Mayor Antonio Muñoz added: “Football cannot be left out of matters such as sustainability or accessibility. Real Betis will be an example with the celebration of this successful match and will demonstrate that Seville is a very supportive city. The passion of football cannot be stolen from a person with a disability.”