On Saturday February 18th, 2023 our partnership with Real Betis and Integrated Dreams achieved its mission of hosting the “most inclusive football game in the world”!
After months in the making and announcing the initiative at WFS Europe, we can officially say WE BROKE A WORLD RECORD! 1740 disabled fans joined us to experience the game between Real Betis and Real Valladolid from the stands of the Benito Villamarín stadium. This number surpasses that prior record by 700 people!
Referring back to what Ramón Alarcón, CEO of Real Betis Balompié said in our exclusive interview with him:
“Clubs should be rivals on the field of play, but when the referee blows the final whistle, we must unite and face the challenges facing society together.”
A week before the event we also interviewed José Soares, Chief Association Executive from Integrated Dreams about the initiative, how it was born, and the impact he hoped it would have.
During the match, a whole set of actions were carried out with the sole purpose of giving more visibility and accommodating people with disabilities in the stands. Some of these actions include braille-numbered kits for the players, having the hymn interpreted in sign language, placing ColorAdd code on bibs to be recognized by colourblind people, and more. Actions like these made a huge difference for those who needed them, and that too has to be considered “maximizing the fan experience”. So every club should want to have all fans enjoy our beautiful sport equally.
Emotions where at an all-time high and it’s been amazing to see an entire community (players, employees, governing institutions, industry leaders, media, etc.) engage with this project.
We are still mesmerized by the impact this initiative has had, not only on Saturday, but on the days after the match as well. Inclusivity must be part of every club, league, and federation’s actions not only for a day, but throughout the year. We strongly believe this record will create a ripple effect that motivates others into taking action!
The media coverage that this match has had so far is incredible! Here are a few examples of what has been said about the match.
- UEFA: “Real Betis break records on day of inclusion.”
- The Athletic: “Real Betis host ‘football’s most inclusive game’ as fans help break world record”.
- BBC Sport: “Players and fans of Real Betis hope football will become more accessible for disabled fans following what they called ‘the most inclusive game in the world’.”
- The Irish Times: “Joanne O’Riordan: Real Betis show the real meaning of inclusion in sport”
- The Stadium Business: “Real Betis hosts ‘World’s most inclusive football match.”
- Record Portugal: “Betis-Valladolid, o ‘Jogo mais inclusivo do Mundo’ a iniciativa que também serve de alerta.”
- Publico Portugal: “‘O jogo mais inclusivo do mundo’ é neste sábado e tem dedo português”
- Biobio Chile: “El partido más inclusivo del mundo”.
- Marca: “El Benito Villamarín bate el récord del partido más inclusivo del mundo”
- Diario AS: “Un mundo inclusivo en heliopolis”.
- La Vanguardia: “El Betis bate el récord de 1.740 aficionados con discapacidad en un partido de fútbol.”
- El Día Después: “Fútbol para todo el mundo”
- Relevo: “El Betis celebra el partido más inclusivo del mundo”
- Tododisca: “El Betis más inclusivo: dorsales y nombres en la camiseta en braille”.
- El Desmarque: “Unidos por la inclusión: gran iniciativa en el Real Betis – Real Valladolid”
Social Media exposure
Social media has too been a great medium not only after the match, but also prior and during the game.
This is only one step towards the final victory, football must be a driver for change and inclusivity within society and we hope this initiative inspires other clubs and sports to become more inclusive all-year-round.