How Okta transformed the Belgian Football Community 

In 2018, the Belgian national football team, the Red Devils, achieved a historic World Cup semi-final appearance, followed by securing a bronze medal. This success story continued with the Red Flames, the women’s national team, making progress in FIFA rankings and shining a light on women’s football.

The Power of Collective Effort

How does a small country like Belgium, with just 11 million people, consistently produce football talent and achieve remarkable victories? The answer lies in the collective effort of the Belgian football community, which encompasses players, coaches, referees, administrators, parents of young talents, volunteers, and passionate fans. The Royal Belgian Football Association, or Koninklijke Belgische Voetbalbond (KBVB), represents the interests of all these groups.

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RBFA Round Table event

Digital Transformation for a Unified Experience

To ensure the success of every game, stakeholders are kept informed through the new RBFA app, allowing fans to purchase tickets and access match results and statistics. However, the digital platforms catering to these groups were not always centralized. Fans had to navigate various customer portals to buy tickets or merchandise, lacking the ability to create a centralized profile for personalized support. Moreover, this fragmented system prevented the KBVB (Royal Belgian Football Association) from gaining a clear overview of fan activities.In 2019, the KBVB decided to transform its digital customer platforms. Their goal was to create a highly personalized user experience that honored Belgium’s golden generation, better served the football community, and offered a 360-degree customer view with improved insights.

Okta: The Unifying Solution

The brand new digital platform had to adhere to three fundamental principles: it had to be innovative, customer-centric, and data-driven. To achieve this transformation, the KBVB turned to Okta, a unified identity solution. Koen Landsheere, IT Manager at the KBVB, highlights

" We wanted to offer our fans a more personalized experience and improve services for clubs, players, and partners. This meant consolidating all our platforms with a single customer identity and management solution. This way, we could create a unified KBVB hub that provides all our stakeholders access to all services."
Koen Landsheere
IT Manager @RBFA

With the Okta implementation, KBVB is able to seamlessly integrate customer and workforce identity, providing fans, employees, and partners with secure access to services. Okta’s implementation streamlined access not only for fans but also for employees and partners. They gained quick and secure access to various internal applications, including Office 365, without compromising security. Cédric Brosens, Data Protection Officer at the KBVB, explains, “We utilize dozens of internal applications, each handling sensitive information through its unique identity and access management flow. With our IT department’s limitations, a centralized access management system was the optimal choice.

With Okta’s customer identity and workforce identity solutions, the KBVB consolidated existing user identities stored in multiple repositories, resulting in a unified KBVB identity. To accelerate the migration and implementation process, our Okta Identity and Access Management experts played a crucial role.

“We had to migrate a massive user base to a consolidated user store in a short time frame without disrupting the user experience,” Cédric Gossé, Security Architect, and Partner at Upright Security explains. “Fortunately, we were able to significantly expedite the process because Okta supports multiple migration strategies through APIs and was even willing to increase their rate limits for us.

In 2020, the KBVB and Upright Security completed the first phase of the project, going live with and the BBF application. Cédric added, “In just four months, we migrated all 700,000 users to Okta’s User Management and completed onboarding for the applications with the most users. We wanted to ensure a smooth transition for users during the migration period, so we supported both the old and new login methods, allowing users to retain their existing passwords.”

Simplifying Belgian Football Access

Today, Belgian football is thriving, and the fan experience has been elevated. Thanks to Okta, fans and stakeholders no longer need multiple accounts to fulfill their football needs. A single sign-on through the E-Kickoff portal grants access to all KBVB platforms, from purchasing match tickets to reliving football moments through video highlights and tracking team statistics.

Moreover, the KBVB now possesses a 360-degree customer view, allowing them to tailor content effectively to users’ interests and strengthen relationships with sponsors and advertisers. With the outdated “one-size-fits-all” approach replaced by a modern, personalized experience, new revenue streams are emerging. Koen adds: “the Belgian football community is more united than ever, and thanks to Okta, we can offer fans, players, parents, coaches, and other stakeholders an unique and frictionless football experience. In the upcoming tournaments, a more engaged fanbase can make a decisive difference. In addition it allows us to increase our revenue, both directly through ticket and merchandise sales and indirectly through sponsorship and advertising. These revenues are immediately reinvested in football, creating shared value for the entire football ecosystem.

In addition, KBVB employees gained productivity now they have seamless access to their applications through Okta. Cédric explains, “With Okta Single Sign-On, we can provide our employees with instant access to all the tools they need daily. This boosts morale, enhances performance, and makes us a more pleasant organization to work for.

A Bright Future for Belgian Football

External partners, including coaches, medical professionals, and volunteers, have become more seamlessly integrated with Okta, allowing the KBVB to track access permissions effectively and minimize access risks.

Our IT department can easily establish fine-grained access controls for all our applications and user groups with Okta, laying the foundation for GDPR compliance across the organization,” Cédric (KBVB) explains. “Thanks to Okta, the entire federation has enhanced resilience and heightened security levels.”

We first prioritized integrating the most critical apps, such as Office 365 and the organization’s VPN. In addition, we ensured that every new application is seamlessly integrated with Okta. Critical applications are safeguarded with Adaptive Multi-Factor Authentication, with both employees and customers using Okta Verify and Google Authenticator as a second authentication factor.” Cédric (Upright Security) adds.

The federation is thriving, and women’s football is on the rise. Enhancing and personalizing the fan experience isn’t just a smart business move for the KBV. It’s a crucial milestone in the future of the sport. Looking ahead, KBVB plans  to further integrate customer and workforce applications with Okta, including the brand-new chatbot. Users will soon authenticate directly from the chat window, gaining instant access to information.

" The Belgian football community is more united than ever, and thanks to Okta, we can offer fans, players, parents, coaches, and other stakeholders a unique and seamless football experience. By infusing football with a personalized touch through highly tailored fan experiences in applications and interactions, we can amplify community engagement. In the upcoming tournaments, a more engaged fanbase can make a decisive difference."
Koen Landsheere
IT Manager @RBFA

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