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LONDON -- British singer and TV personality Cheryl Cole says she is separating from her husband, football (soccer) player Ashley Cole.

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The 26-year-old Girls Aloud pop singer is a judge for the British reality talent show "The X Factor" along with Simon Cowell. She asked the media to respect her privacy "during this difficult time" in a statement issued Tuesday by her publicist.

Ashley Cole plays left back for Chelsea and the England national team.

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British media had speculated the marriage was in trouble after tabloids published front-page stories reportedly linking Ashley Cole to other women.

Cheryl Cole's song "Fight for This Love" was nominated for a 2010 Brit award.