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Liability of football clubs for supporters’ misconduct

On 19 May 2016, Rosmarijn van Kleef is expected to defend her PhD thesis entitled ‘Liability of football clubs for supporters’ misconduct. A study into the interaction between disciplinary regulations of sports organisations and civil law’ in Leiden. Supervisors are Professor Alex Geert Castermans (Leiden) and Professor Antonio Rigozzi (Neuchâtel).

Rosmarijn van Kleef
19 May 2016
Leiden Repositorium

Supporters’ misconduct is an unfortunate phenomenon connected to the most popular sport in the word. Despite many legislative efforts, incidents keep occurring, often resulting in damage. The difficulty in addressing the misbehaving individuals directly has led to the idea of addressing football clubs instead. The rules created by national and international football organisations hold clubs liable for their supporters' behaviour regardless of the question of culpable conduct or culpable oversight. In addition to the disciplinary liability, there is the issue of the compensation for damage caused before, during and after football matches. However, the doctrinal debate in different jurisdictions has remained focused on the disciplinary liability with the issue of the compensation of the damage caused before, during and after football matches taking a backseat.

On the whole this study is focused on the interaction between the disciplinary regulations of national and international football associations regarding the liability of clubs for supporters' misconduct and civil law. To provide a comprehensive overview, the disciplinary and civil liability of clubs was examined from a comparative, transnational and interactional perspective.

This study clarifies whether and under what circumstances those that have suffered damage as a result of supporters’ misconduct can turn to the football club for compensation. Furthermore, this research provides new insights into the position and interaction of private regulations of sports organisations – such as disciplinary liability rules – and their application in civil law. It is hoped that this research will provide an understanding of and new insights into how the different rules interact, allowing for responsible decision-making regarding the enforcement of the existing rules or the creation of new rules in regard to the liability of football clubs for supporters’ misconduct.

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