Football has a habit of combining history with current events and last night’s opponents, Real Betis, did just that.
All sorts of questions were conjured up in the minds of supporters. “Did Celtic give Betis a kit years ago?” I was asked, shortly after responding to the query: “Is it true that Betis wore a green and white hooped kit in tribute to Celtic for Andalusian Day in 2017?”
The story dates back to the foundations of Real Betis and a team named Sevilla Balompié. Sevilla Balompié had been established by a group of students of the Polytechnical School of Seville in 1907. Two years later, a group of directors at city rivals FC Sevilla split from their club after an internal disagreement based around social class. In doing so, they created a new team, which was simply named Betis Balompié. The title of ‘Betis’ was chosen because it is derived from ‘Baetis’, the Roman name for the Guadalquivir River which flows through Seville.
One of the Betis founders, and club captain, Manuel Ramos Asensio was a Spanish merchant, who had taken a trip to Glasgow in the early 1900s (the exact date is contested, but thought to be 1912) and found himself inspired by the green and white of Celtic at a match he attended. After expressing his admiration for the jersey, Celtic donated an old set of kits to him.
There are three theories as to how this event unfolded. One goes that Celtic simply donated their old vertical striped kit, whilst another two ideas suggest that they donated either a set of hoops or green and black stripes, and Asensio then re-designed the top to put his own twist on the colours. Either way, the businessman accepted the gift from Parkhead and ultimately changed Betis Balompié’s kit from blue jerseys to green and white stripes. This wasn’t just a rash change though. It made perfect sense, with the new colours matching those of the official Andalusian flag.
Betis initially attracted notable support from local working class communities, many of whom were Spanish Republicans. After establishing itself, the club took a huge leap forward as they merged with Sevilla Balompié. This amalgamation, which took place in 1914, moulded a club with improved opportunity for success. Interestingly, the name of Betis prevailed in the merger, and the green and white vertical striped kit won the day (like Betis originally did, Sevilla Balompié had always worn blue shirts with white shorts).
Given the political views of many Betis supporters, who stuck by the team after merging with Sevilla Balompié, it is a little surprising that the club gained admiration from a number of aristocrats at the time, including King Alfonso XIII. Betis then received royal patronage that year and became known as Real Betis Balompié, translating as Royal Betis Football in English.
The vertical green and white striped jersey is still revered by the Sevillanos as the gift from Celtic. You’ll often see Celtic flags dotted around the terraces at Real Betis matches and the club is now often nicknamed the ‘Verdiblancos’: simply translated as the green and whites.
In 2017, the Spanish giants paid homage to Celtic with a unique hooped kit to mark Andalusian Day.
Real Betis’ 2017 Hoops kit in tribute to Celtic on Andalusian Day. I’ll post the story in the thread below shortly. pic.twitter.com/pKNtk90Iyl
— Liam Kelly (@cfcliamk96) September 17, 2021
History then clashed with the present last night, as Celtic travelled to Seville to face their old friends in a competitive fixture for the first time at Estadio Benito Villamarín. Unfortunately, the Spaniards didn’t return the gift by allowing us to take the points back to Scotland, but the Hoops can make amends against the Stripes in December.
— Real Betis Balompié (@RealBetis_en) February 16, 2017