Posted on Sep 09
The German Football League (DFL) is planning new measures to protect footballers from violent fans after Kevin Pezzoni quit Cologne having been repeatedly bullied and threatened by the club's supporters.
"In the first instance, the clubs will gather together all the measures which have been taken against fans and look at what additional steps can help quickly, such as the latest video technology and training of extra enforcement officers," DFL president Reinhard Rauball told German magazine Focus.
"In future we will not tolerate expressions of violence and threats."
Pezzoni, 23, had his Cologne contract cancelled by mutual consent ten days ago after being threatened with violence outside his home by a menacing group of supporters.
He later claimed second division Cologne did not do enough to protect him from the malicious fans, who had also left notes on his car threatening him with violence.
Having joined Cologne in 2008 from Blackburn Rovers, Pezzoni, who had his nose broken by a fan in February while celebrating in the city, told club coach Holger Stanislawski he no longer felt safe playing for the team.
Pezzoni's plight has sent shockwaves through Germany's footballing community with national coach Joachim Loew having insisted the situation is "unacceptable".
Social media website Facebook was used in the threats against Pezzoni with German football officials and players complaining bullying and even death threats have increased significantly through the Internet, report Focus.
"With regards to social media networks, the authorities have to pay closer attention," said Ulf Baranowsky, head of Germany's professional footballers union.
"There must be more to filter what is allowed and what amounts to criminal activity."