Liability of football clubs for supporters’ misconduct
Imagine: you go see a football match. During the match, supporters start to riot and you get hurt by an object that gets thrown in the crowd. Can you hold the football club responsible for the damage you suffered?
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. Both forms of liability of football clubs for supporters’ misconduct – disciplinary liability and civil liability – have been the subject of a number of court cases across Europe. Are the judgments in these two types of cases in line with each other with respect to the appreciation of the applicable rules and sanctions? Are the same types of rules applied in both situations? Can disciplinary rules be applied in civil law cases? Is the same behaviour evaluated differently in cases of disciplinary liability and civil liability? Is there room for the national court to assess the civil liability of football clubs after a sanction has been imposed? When assessing the civil liability of clubs, do national courts refer to relevant rules in sports regulations? Can disciplinary standards be applied in civil law in order to define the duty of care of football clubs in regard to supporters' misconduct?
On the whole this research 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.