How Okta Helps the Royal Belgian Football Association Match a Golden Generation With a Golden Fan Experience

Today’s blog post comes from Koen Landsheere, IT Manager at the Royal Belgian Football Association (RBFA), Belgium’s governing federation of football. By integrating Okta across customer and workforce identity environments, the RBFA elevated the fan experience with a single, personalised customer portal for all football needs, while strengthening its defence against unauthorised access to internal applications.

Where would football be without fans? Much of the sport’s greatness comes from the fact that people, all over the world, care so much about it. But it’s not just a numbers game, it’s about the passion people bring to it – both on the field and in the stands. At the Royal Belgian Football Association (RBFA), our mission is to cultivate that passion.

Belgium is a nation of just 11 million people, but you couldn’t tell from our FIFA rankings: our women’s team, the Red Flames, is at its highest spot in history, and the Red Devils, our national men’s team, most recently scored third place in the 2018 World Cup. We’re blessed with a ‘golden generation’, which goes to show that football is a sport where underdogs can shine. All it takes is a strong community.

Our Belgian football community is spearheaded by the players, from the seasoned veterans of Division A to the youngsters in youth development. They’re flanked by trainers, referees, and administrators who keep the ball rolling through wins and losses. Cheering from the sidelines are the parents, who are raising the golden generations yet to come. And no match would be complete without an imposing wall of fans, clad in Belgium’s black, yellow, and red.

To bring all these groups together, we’re providing our stakeholders with a variety of digital platforms and applications integrated by Tymes4. This includes the RBFA app,  where fans can browse results and statistics.

But fandom is highly personal, and what was missing until 2020 was a hub where people could create their own profiles, and access their favourite services all in one spot. To give our users a personalised fan experience to cheer about, we decided to consolidate our services with an all-in-one cloud platform. But extending our cloud footprint posed a challenge: as a federation, we have dozens of applications, accessible by 600 employees and a variety of external stakeholders. How could we keep track of who accessed what, making sure sensitive data was kept secure while complying with guidelines like GDPR?

We started looking for solutions to tackle our customer and workforce identity needs, and were thrilled when we discovered that we could score both goals with one player: Okta.

First, we enlisted support from Upright Security, a team of identity and access management specialists, who helped us migrate our existing, 700,000 identities strong user base from siloed repositories to Okta’s User Management. In just four months, we finished the entire migration and integrated Okta with our two most user-heavy applications, and BBF, with all others to follow. For our fans, the process was 100% seamless because they could keep their logins and passwords.

Now, our customers can use the E-Kickoff web portal to log in with their previous credentials and access all our RBFA services in a single hub. From ticket sales to personalised video content, fans get their football fix all in one place. They can even register for matches online and skip long lines at the stadium, which makes the game more enjoyable, and lightens the workload on our administrative staff.

What’s great for our fans, is great for us: by providing a centralised, 360 degree view of every user, Universal Directory enables us to leverage our data more efficiently. By personalising our content, we can increase our revenues with more successful ticket and merch sales, and make advertising and our relationships with partners and sponsors more profitable, too. We reinvest these profits into our community, to help make Belgian football even stronger.

Of course, some of the biggest fans are our very own employees. With Single Sign-On, we’re greatly simplifying work for our teams by enabling them to log in just once to have all the tools they need at their fingertips. We’re starting with the most important applications, such as Office 365 and our VPN, and adding more services as we go. Whenever we onboard a new application, integrating it with Okta is the first thing we do – it’s just that convenient.

Underpinning the added convenience with Okta, we’re also making the RBFA more secure. We use Adaptive Multi-Factor Authentication to further safeguard access to applications that contain sensitive information. As a football federation, our applications are used not just by our many employees, but also by external stakeholders, such as trainers, referees, and volunteers. Thanks to role-based access control with Okta, assigning permissions is simple, and we’re always on top of who’s accessing what.

In short, we’re fans of Okta, because Okta helps us deliver for our fans. And while we’re at it, we’re winning new ones, too: right now, women’s football has the largest potential for growth, and with our Red Flames climbing the FIFA rankings, we’re expecting a lot more interest in this side of the sport. With our revamped digital platforms and the support of Okta, we’re all set to give our fans what they want: a more personal, interactive, and fun football experience worthy of our golden generation.

Want to find out more about the Royal Belgian Football Association and how it’s scoring with Okta? Read our full case study here.