Cologne football bullies could face charges

A recent attack on FC Cologne defender Kevin Pezzoni and his subsequent decision to quit the league has sent shockwaves throughout Germany's football community and prompted the player to consider filing a legal complaint.

Cologne football bullies could face charges
Photo: DPA

Pezzoni quit the second-league team last weekend after a group of angry fans ambushed him outside his apartment, roughed him up, and threatened him. The club let the 23-year-old player out of his contract after the attack.

“[The attackers] left a note on his car and made it clear they wanted to really hurt him,” Cologne coach Holger Stanislawski said at the time. “That is just not acceptable and can’t ever happen.”

The public prosecutor in Cologne, Ulf Willuhn, said on Wednesday that he had been informed by Pezzoni’s attorneys to expect a formal complaint. A spokesman for the footballer confirmed the move.

FC Cologne fans who opposed Pezzoni’s membership of the team had started a Facebook group called: “Kevin Pezzoni must go.” The aim of the group was to gather 50,000 signatures, and it was formed after a recent game against Erzgebirge Aue in which Pezzoni performed poorly.

The recent attack wasn’t the first time the player had been threatened. At a carnival celebration earlier this year an angry fan punched Pezzoni in the face and broke his nose.

But the latest incident, with the attackers waiting outside his home, caused concern all the way to the top of Germany’s football hierarchy.

Joachim Löw, coach of the national team, said Tuesday: “I find it unacceptable that something like this can even happen.”

The head of the players’ union (VDV), Ulf Baranowsky, warned of the problem escalating further.

“It can’t be, that because of such criminal machinations, players can be so intimidated that they must run away,” he said. “And it cannot happen that these violent criminals practically determine the squads.”

There have been other examples of players in Germany being threatened by angry fans, Baranowsky said. Cars have been scratched, one player had his leg broken, and another got a broken nose after visiting a disco, he said.

What once were solitary incidents are now becoming more of a trend, said Harald Lange, director of an institute for fan culture at the University of Würzburg. “In the past two to three years there have been more and more such cases,” he said.

Meanwhile, the team’s sponsor, the retail and tourism giant Rewe, whose name is emblazoned on FC Cologne’s jerseys, pledged Wednesday to help fight against fan violence.

Alain Caparros, CEO of Rewe, said in a statement, that there should be “absolutely zero tolerance” for such crimes. “We must send a clear signal: Those who do not absolutely distance themselves from anarchists and violent criminals cause harm to the club, the team, and all true fans.”

DPA/The Local/mbw

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British football teams allowed to skip Germany’s quarantine for Euro 2020

Germany's government announced on Tuesday it will allow England, Scotland and Wales to enter the country without quarantine to play at Euro 2020 despite a recent rise in cases linked to the Delta variant of Covid-19 in Britain.

British football teams allowed to skip Germany's quarantine for Euro 2020
One of the venues for Euro 2020 is in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

The three teams could potentially reach the quarter-final held in Munich on July 2nd.

If that were the case, they would be exempt from the rule that travellers from the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland must currently observe a 14-day isolation period due to the virus strain of concern – Delta – first identified in India.

“The people accredited for the European football Championship are exempt from the quarantine obligation, even after arriving from an area impacted by a variant” Berlin said in a statement.

“This exemption concerns all the people who have been accredited by the organising committee for the preparation, participation, the holding and the follow-up of international sporting events,” it added.

The exemption does not include fans, who will be obliged to follow German government self-isolation rules.

Germany declared the UK a ‘virus variant area of concern’ on May 23rd due to rising cases linked to the Delta variant in parts of the country. 

READ ALSO: Germany makes UK ‘virus variant area of concern’: How does it affect you?

This reclassification came just seven days after the UK was put back on Germany’s list at the lowest risk level, and barely a month after it was taken off all risk lists completely.

The ban was put in place despite the UK’s relatively low Covid rates as a precautionary measure.

A general ban on entry is in place for people coming from countries on the ‘virus variant’ list – such as India and Brazil – the highest of Germany’s risk categories. 

There are some exceptions for entering from these countries – for example German residents and citizens. However, anyone who does enter from Germany is required to submit a Covid-19 test before boarding the flight and must quarantine for 14 days on arrival, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated or not.

READ ALSO: Germany’s new relaxed quarantine and testing rules after travel

Euro 2020 starts on Friday as Italy host Turkey in Rome with the Bavarian city hosting three group games as well as the last-eight match.

Around 14,000 fans will be allowed into the Allianz Arena for the fixtures.