Mucho Betis, eh!

They say there are three great fan clubs in the world of sports: Barcelona FC, Real Madrid and Real Betis Balompié. All Spanish football teams, though Betis is in the second tier of the league. Despite this, Er Betí is the team that people follow with devotion and continue to fill up their stadium.

José María is a socio, a season ticket holder, and he invited me to come as his guest to watch the Betis-Valladolid game. I had it clear that I would follow Betis, despite having lived in Valladolid for a short time in 2005. But whenever anyone asks what team I support, I can never really make a decision.

You have to understand that there are two teams in Sevilla. In one corner, in red and white, highly ranked Sevilla Fútbol Club in the Northern end. In the other, the verdiblanco of Real Betis. One has scored titles, cups and has a trademarked theme song. The other is full of cutres, frikis and very few pijos. I went with the underdogs this morning and met JM for the walk from our neighborhood.
Los verdiblancos were out in full force heading down to the stadium. There’s something like 95.000 socios throughout Spain and the stadium receives an average of 35.000 spectators per game. Once inside Estadio Ruíz de Lopera, a massive stone fortress named for the current president of the club, I got a glimpse of the afición bética: there wasn’t a single purple shirt in sight from the visiting team, young kids wore issued Betis get-ups and there were chants and claps echoed off every corner of the stadium. We sat in the 16th row, close enough to see the players sweat and curse at the ref under their breath.
At two minutes to 12, the rickety loudspeaker system announced Valladolid´s line up. Realistically, this game was supposed to be a top-tier game for the second division, as Valladolid has the highest number of points, followed by Betis. The eleven names were met with boos and whistles. When the verdiblancos took the field, the mascot, Palmera (name of the street the stadium is located on), took a lap around the field, provoked by olés after each players´s name. The fans on the south end of the field held up green and white flags and led the crowd in the hymn, various chants and hand clapping movements while the other fans twirled either their shirts or green and white scarves above their heads. Rolls of toilet paper fell around us as the kickoff started.
Now, Betis isn’t exactly a well-stacked team and didn’t play well in the first period, but the amount of noise made me think otherwise. The socios around me screamed SONOFABITCH every five seconds at the ref’s calls and stood up every time a ball rolled out-of-bounds or Betis was close to scoring. Zarzuelas sounded and every lull in play was met with a clamoring clapping sequence to animate the team.
Valladolid scored about 35 minutes into the first half, Betis soon after and again off a golazo header. I soon got bored with the game and decided it was more fun to watch a game in a bar with a beer in hand, but was impressed with the devotion to the team. Not a single person looked bored, not one didn’t let a commentary escape from their lips. I have yet to decide whether I prefer Sevilla to Betis or vice-versa, but for now, Viva el Betis manque pierda!!
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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living among pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she wrangles babies at an English Language Academy and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.

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