Q&A: Fluminense FC

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In this exclusive interview for MEI, Rachael Church–Sanders speaks to intellectual property attorney Peter Eduardo Siemsen, president of leading Brazilian football club Fluminense.

With three Brazilian Championships (1970, 1984 and 2010), 30 Rio de Janeiro Championships and the 2007 Brazil Cup under its belt, Fluminense played its matches at the famous Maracaná Stadium, before renovation works started for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Team of Warriors Fluminense has around 4m fans in Brazil alone. How did you end up in your role at Fluminense? I have supported Fluminense since I was a kid watching games in the stadium and on TV. In 1996, when Fluminense started its worst three year period in history, I became a member in order to try helping it. After many years helping the club in some strategic legal cases (pro bono), I decided it was a good time to help facilitate a long term strategy. What is your strategy for growing your domestic fan base and engaging with overseas fans? Firstly, we are investing in our youth categories in order to develop young idols connected with the clubs passion. Secondly, we are working on a new image that aims to link Fluminense to the culture of kids and youths, using more appropriate language and media to reach them, and creating a new branding programme. Furthermore, we aim to take part in as many international events as possible, such as the South American championships and international tournaments. We had a pre training season in China and often hire players from other countries, such as Argentina, in order to widen our appeal outside Brazil. With social networking being very popular in your country, how are you using social media to help engage with your fans? We are present on the three most popular platforms: Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. For each one, we produce tailored content. Generally we use social media to offer content that is not available in traditional media and the sports press. Thus, we achieve two functions: to feed sports media with new material and to be an attractive channel to our fans. Twitter has had 120% growth since March, reaching 56, 000 followers; our photo albums on Flickr are fed daily, with more than 2. 5m visits; our Facebook page started in May and we already have more than 190, 000 fans. In the latter, our posts have already reached 17m views and 220, 000 interactions (comments and Like clicks). How popular is your website? Our official website was re–launched on Fluminenses anniversary [21 July]. On the new websites opening day we had more than 40, 000 visits. Thats not bad at all, but our strategy is to encourage fans to use other social media channels to engage in more interaction and feedback than a traditional site can offer. Do you offer any mobile products? Flu Mobile is our official website for mobile, SMS services (news, polls, quizzes and sweepstakes), content downloads, sending messages to athletes and coaching staff and apps for iPhones and Androids. How does Fluminense use technology to engage with fans on match days at your stadium? We are currently negotiating a future partnership with the Rio de Janeiro government, which is Maracanás owner. So, once the stadium is renovated, we hope to be able to offer all the latest technology. Finally, what is next for Fluminense? We are investing a lot in youth, in our infrastructure for training, and in our marketing department. We are investing in our long term future by getting our finances in order (through reorganising our debts and transferring at least one player a year, etc). We hope that in a few years we will have one of the best infrastructures in Brazil, and be known as a factory of young players, that is financially lucrative, with more than 50, 000 active members and fighting for titles every year.

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