Fan engagement is a very hot topic in sports business this period. Fox Sports Stories presents an interview with one of the most iconic fans around the globe, Michael Zeman from Germany. Michael is most commonly known as “Bushman“ and he is a Bayern Munich fan.
- Since when are you a Bayern Munich fan?
Since the day I was born! White sheets and blood at birth, red and white (laughing)! My mother told me, that when I was a child and I was playing football on the pitch, I always wanted to be Gerd Müller!
- What differentiates you from other fans?
Really nothing, because we all love our teams and me especially Bayern Munich! My passion is, to go with my special outfit to a game.
- Tell us few things about your outfit!
Yes my outfit, well, the coat is over 35 years old and I think that when you pick up the patches, then the coat “collapses” (laughing). My outfit consists of, as I said earlier, a coat with more than 100 patches, fan trousers with more than 60 patches, 40 scarfs around my arms and a 3.50 meters long scarf around my neck, FC Bayern underpants and socks, Bayern headband, Bayern soccer shoes and a hat again with many with patches on it.
- Do you have a role in Bayern Munich or in Bayern Munich communities?
No, I am a simple Bayern Munich football fan. I have no professional business with Bayern Munich!
- You are an extraordinary case of a football fan, do you think more people should follow your footsteps?
It depends on each person, how he/she shows to the people the love for his/her club! Everyone show their love for their club in a different way, one has a jersey, others have scarves, and so on. Everyone should wear what he/ she enjoys and how he / she feels comfortable!
- Would you like more fans to be so expressive as you are?
If someone wants to dress like me, why not! I’m always happy when I meet such people in the stadiums!
- What is your opinion about the average football fan nowadays?
What is a average football fan? A fan with a jersey, a fan with a fan hat or a fan with a flag? I don’t know such thing, the only important thing for me, is to love the club that you support, the team in the stadium!
- In your opinion, what should football clubs do to increase fan engagement and keep fans more engaged, satisfied and loyal?
I am not an expert, but I think that Bayern Munich does an excellent job on that! That is the perfect example! Open trainings sessions and autographs and photos with the fans! Only Bayern Munich do that! They just display “fan closeness” and not move away from the fans as an impersonal club, the same thing does the German National Team! Where can you still visit the training ground of a top club today during training session? This is not possible with the foreign top teams in Europe and if it is, it has a lot of limitations!
- Do you think there is still place for passionate and romantic fans with genuine love towards their club, like you, in modern football or it is just money?
Absolutely! When I see, how many people come to me and want a photo or want to speak with me, this is amazing! When I visit other countries it is awesome to see, how many people are interested to know more about me! Quite often I hear: “You are the perfect fan example for Bayern” This makes me very proud! The soccer business has changed a little bit, big sponsors with big money etc. but we live now in this era. You have to try to combine the old and the new! This is what Uli Hoeness and Karl Heinz Rummenigge do perfectly right now at Bayern Munich!
- Which is the most emotional moment that you have lived with Bayern Munich?
Definitely the win of the UEFA Cup Final in 1996 and the 2 wins in the UEFA Champions League in 2001 and 2013! Also, the defeat in 1999 in Barcelona. We had to walk 2 km to take the bus. The people in the houses there, opened their windows and waved their scarves and gave us their support! They knew we are the better team on that final! That was awesome!
Michael “Bushman“ Zeman is one of the most genuine fans nowadays. People are choosing teams based on the performance on the pitch, values are lost due to big contracts and huge sponsorships, but there are still romantic fans out there like Bushman, who follows Bayern Munich on every game, every season.
You can follow Michael at www.bayern-buschmann.de