Real Betis break records on day for inclusion
Thursday, March 2, 2023
Spanish club welcomes 1,740 disabled fans to "the most inclusive match in the world" against Real Valladolid.
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As one of 11 focus areas in our Football Sustainability Strategy 2030, we want to ensure that the football environment and its infrastructure are accessible for everyone who wishes to take part, welcoming players, fans and staff members of all abilities.
Our ambition for 2030 is to guarantee barrier-free access for any individual wanting to play, attend events or work in football, across Europe.
We therefore salute initiatives such as "the most inclusive match in the world", and congratulate everyone involved in setting a new record for diversity and inclusion, at the recent Real Betis match against Real Valladolid. Hopefully, this inspiring example will encourage other members of the football eco-system to improve accessibility in their own environment.
The La Liga match welcomed 1,740 supporters with a range of disabilities, in a total attendance of more than 50,000 at the Benito Villamarín Stadium, where they witnessed a 2-1 win for the home side.
The day was a result of Betis' work with the Portugal-based Integrated Dreams organisation, which works to increase the representation of disabled people in sport, and the World Football Summit.
Among the fans witnessing live football for the first time was Betis fan Daniel, who was accompanied to the match by his guide dog, and met Verdiblanco striker Borja Iglesias after the game.
"When I was a child, I dreamed of being a soccer player, I was not aware of how lucky I would be if I ended up achieving it," Iglesias posted on social media afterwards. "Scoring goals, celebrating victories and successes together is something indescribable, but sharing moments and energy as with Daniel is something that cannot be appreciated in any way."
Iglesias and his team-mates were willing participants in the initiative, helping to spread the message that football is for everyone by wearing shirts featuring numbers in Braille, bibs with the color ADD code for colourblind people and walking onto the pitch accompanied by disabled children mascots.
Betis also organised for the club's traditional pre-match anthem to be introduced with sign language on the big screen, while supporters around the stadium could also enjoy exhibitions of adapted sports such as sitting volleyball and wheelchair rugby ahead of the game.