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PhD Defence Rosmarijn van Kleef

Rosmarijn van Kleef hopes to defend her PhD thesis soon on the liability of football clubs for the misconduct of supporters. In view of the upcoming European Football Championship, a highly topical subject of which a glimpse is given below. The defence will take place on 19 May in Leiden.

Rosmarijn van Kleef hopes to defend her PhD thesis entitled ‘Liability of football clubs for supporters’ misconduct’, which she wrote while she was member of staff at the Institute of Private Law and subsequently as a guest PhD researcher under the supervision of Alex Geert Castermans and Antonio Rigozzi (University of Neuchâtel).


Although the majority of supporters just enjoys attending a football match, a section of supporters regularly causes trouble and damages public and private property. The Dutch supporters who last year damaged the ancient Fontana della Barcaccia in Rome, drew widespread attention. In the ensuing debate, the media also put the football clubs in the spotlight. What is the extent of their responsibility? With the European Championship in France just around the corner, the conduct of supporters will once again be the focus of attention.

Strict Liability

In her research, Rosmarijn examined both disciplinary law and liability under civil law.  In her PhD thesis she defends the view that strict liability for supporter violence would be an acceptable addition to the current legal framework. Van Kleef: "In view of the advantages of strict liability - especially in the form of legal certainty - it is desirable that the strict liability of clubs for supporter violence is accepted as a civil law concept". She proposes setting up the civil liability of football clubs according to the disciplinary model.

Rosmarijn worked previously at the Institute of Private Law before becoming a guest researcher in Switzerland. In Lausanne Rosmarijn works for TSE Consulting, a Burson-Marseller Company,  where she advises international sport federations and government bodies involved in sport.

In 2015 she wrote an article Reviewing Disciplinary Sanctions in Sports, which was published in the Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law.

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