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Dutch League Match Fixing Investigation


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Dutch scandal brewing?

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) - Prosecutors in The Hague are investigating alleged match fixing in the Dutch soccer leagues.

"We're carrying out an initial investigation to see whether criminal acts have been committed - that is, fraud," prosecutor's office spokeswoman Susanne Staals said Thursday.

Staals declined to say which clubs or players are under investigation, or why the probe began.

The Dutch national soccer association, KNVB, said the investigation was launched six weeks ago and covered alleged bribery and embezzlement. The probe was not initially disclosed in order to keep potential suspects from knowing they were under observation.

A league spokesman, Frank Huizinga, said there was no evidence of any corruption. He said the KNVB also monitors major international gambling patterns and hadn't detected any unusual surge in betting on Dutch matches.

But Huizinga said "anything is possible" given recent scandals in Belgium, Germany and Italy.

"We're co-operating with this investigation in every way we can," he said.

De Telegraaf newspaper reported Wednesday that the alleged match-fixing involves several "midlevel" teams in the Dutch premier league and others in the lower First Division.

Prosecutors became suspicious after players paid for large purchases with cash, the paper said. The paper also suggested that Chinese gambling syndicates had been involved in bribing players to rig matches, as allegedly occurred in a similar case in neighbouring Belgium.

"What De Telegraaf writes is completely their own responsibility," Staals said. "I don't know where they're getting that information, but it does not derive from us."

Without citing sources, the paper said some players owned highly expensive cars which seemed beyond their salary level. Others bought houses, paying cash.

In Italy Thursday, new premier Romano Prodi said it would take an "ethical earthquake" to clean up Italian soccer amid allegations of fraud, match-fixing and illegal betting.

Italy's financial police searched the headquarters of Juventus, the storied club at the center of the investigations. Former manager Luciano Moggi resigned Sunday over allegations that he influenced the appointment of match officials for Juventus games.

In Belgium, at least six players and coaches were fired following a bribery and game-fixing probe in March. Filippo Gaone and Laurent Denis, chairman and lawyer of Belgian first division club La Louviere, were charged in connection with allegations that a Shanghai-based crime ring had paid thousands of euros to fix games.

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