Coach: Cologne fans drove Pezzoni out of club

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BERLIN (AP) -Violent fans have driven defender Kevin Pezzoni away from German football club Cologne, according to the club's coach.

"Things happened that meant football matches were no longer possible for him here in Cologne," Holger Stanislawski said late Friday.

"A group of people ambushed the player Pezzoni in front of the door to his private home this week, accosted him and seriously threatened him. They attached signs to his car, and made it clear they wanted to hurt him," he said. "Limits are exceeded when ... the player can no longer go out on the street."

Cologne released the 23-year-old Pezzoni from his contract on Friday after the latest incident involving the club's fans was followed up by threats on the player's Facebook page.

"We looked for the best solution for Kevin. That was the departure. It wasn't about financial matters. You have to show humanity here. I hope that he can enjoy football once again," Stanislawski said.

In February, Pezzoni was attacked by an unknown assailant who broke the player's nose during Cologne's carnival celebrations.

Cologne players posted an open later on the club's website on Saturday, appealing for "fairness and respect" from supporters.

"As a team we cannot allow individual players to be humiliated and personally approached by hooligans ... The press can also have an influence on this through the nature of its reporting. We expect professional and private life to remain separate. If a player is ambushed on the doorstep, if partners are insulted and nasty messages are written, then a limit is exceeded. We won't accept it," the letter said.

Pezzoni played 90 league games for Cologne after arriving from Blackburn Rovers in January 2008.

Cologne was relegated from the Bundesliga last season.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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