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Cologne player quits over fans' threats

The Local · 2 Sep 2012, 10:52

Published: 02 Sep 2012 10:52 GMT+02:00

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Club coach Holger Stanislawski said the club had agreed to the 23-year-old's request to terminate his contract on Friday after he was confronted outside his flat.

"A group of people ambushed him outside his private residence this week, roughed him up and really threatened him," said Cologne coach Stanislawski. "That is just not acceptable and can't ever be so."

"They left a note on his car and made it clear they wanted to really hurt him. These people have crossed the line."

Stanislawski said the player had felt unable to play any more for the club, being terrified of making a bad pass for reasons that went beyond football.

Fans of the club who felt Pezzoni was not good enough to play for it had already started a Facebook group "Kevin Pezzoni must go." The aim, said the founders, was to gather 50,000 signatures. "Out with the rat," said one comment.

The group was started after a poor performance for Pezzoni last weekend at Erzgebirge Aue, where Cologne lost 2-0 and the player was substituted after 34 minutes

Pezzoni joined Cologne in 2008 from English side Blackburn Rovers, and had good reason to think fans might follow up their threat. In February, during the city’s carnival celebrations, one disgruntled fan broke the player's nose.

League president Reinhard Rauball condemned the fans' behaviour in newspaper Welt am Sonntag. "This is not acceptable under any circumstances. It must be clear to everyone that, when things reach a certain level, this cannot be tolerated," he said.

The club, which was relegated from the top flight of German football in the summer, said at the time that it stood by the player. But efforts to mediate between Pezzoni and the angry supporters have been unsuccessful.

Story continues below…

Pezzoni wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday that he was "delighted" by the understanding that had greeted his decision. The player said he was looking forward to new sporting challenges.

Cologne lost 1-0 at home to Energie Cottbus on Friday, their third defeat in four games. Pezzoni did not play in that match.

AFP/The Local/rc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:13 September 2, 2012 by Bigfoot76
These "fans" will probably celebrate now thinking they did something to help their club. They surely think they are hero's. The thing is, how will Köln attract talent when there are fans that go to such extremes? Ultimately they did much more harm to their cause than good in addition to committing completely inappropriate acts against a fellow human being. Too bad that people behave like this.
13:17 September 2, 2012 by alexingohr
these people are not fans, they are so-called normal Cologne youngesters that supposedly follow thier "club"
14:29 September 2, 2012 by Eastard
The football fans are making a reputation for themselves both at the games and off.. Both reputations would be competitive with central African tribal violence.... generally viewed as coming from cultural isolation and less intelligence... There is little excuse for someone living in Germany to claim the disability of culturally isolation so it must be very low intelligence matched with group bravery (many on one)... This behavior is the best way to get talent to leave German teams... and really helps in the perception of German football fans...
18:43 September 3, 2012 by sonriete
I cannot believe what I just read.
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