A passion passed down from parents to children, from grandparents to grandchildren
There are very few cities in the world where the footballing divide is quite as gaping as it is in Seville. With a fierce rivalry dating back over a century, the battle between Real Betis and Sevilla FC to rule the roost in the Andalusian capital serves up one of the biggest grudge matches in LaLiga Santander. Indeed, the two clubs' raison d'être revolves heavily around the presence of their cross-city foes. It's often said that the clubs' fans are born into supporting their team or, as the mid-tier ribbon behind one of the goal's at Betis's iconic Benito Villamarin puts it: 'De padres a hijos, de abuelos a nietos, una pasión llamada Betis' (“From parents to children, from grandparents to grandchildren, a passion called Betis”).
Coined by Andalusian journalist Manuel Ramirez Fernandez, this phrase perfectly encapsulates the atmosphere that's whipped up on a matchday inside the Benito Villamarin, where thousands of fans belt out hearty renditions of 'Olé, olé, olé, Betis, olé', a song that these supporters have grown up with and is central to their childhood, teenage and adult memories. This is a club where the allegiance is passed down from grandparents to parents and in turn on to their children, creating a strong sense of belonging and a fervent passion for the badge in the process. This rich heritage is palpable around the streets of Seville and has been immortalised by the monument that stands proudly outside the ground.
When setting foot inside the stadium, the visitor is immediately struck by how the lush green of the hallowed turf and the white tones of the limestone that surrounds the pitch coincide with the colour scheme in the stands, which are dominated by a Betis player who spans the seats of the three tiers behind the goal in the form of a mosaic. According to the club, the player in question "could be any one of us celebrating a goal, it's a moment of euphoria and glee, which is what we want people to come here and enjoy." The dimensions of this massive mosaic are matched only by the passion of a fan base and a set of players that battle for victory every time they take to the pitch.
On matchdays, the stands are awash with green-and-white striped flags, whilst the sound of clapping hands and chants reverberate around this magical arena, where the locals are 'packed in like cannonballs' (“apiñados como balas de canon”), as another of the phrases inked into a mid-tier ribbon at the Benito Villamarin reads. The moment of truth is here, the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, the ball is in the centre circle and 90 minutes of pulsating action await, during which the only thing on the minds of every member of this model Real Betis family is summed up by the famous Andalusian-accented motto: '¡Viva er Betis, manque pierda!' (Long live Betis, even if they lose!).
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