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By ESPN Staff

Dutch prosecutors begin match-fixing investigations

AMSTERDAM, May 18 (Reuters) - Dutch prosecutors said on Thursday they were investigating possible soccer fraud in the Netherlands.

De Telegraaf newspaper reported prosecutors were investigating possible match-fixing and the bribery of players. A prosecutors' spokeswoman declined to elaborate on details of the investigation.

"The investigation is focusing on fraud and it is still in an early stage. Giving too many details would wake up certain people," she said. She declined to say which clubs were being investigated and in which leagues they played.

De Telegraaf said the probe was initiated after prosecutors discovered that some players' spending was not in line with their income.

The director of the Dutch football federation KNVB, Henk Kesler, welcomed the investigation, saying prosecutors had already spent six weeks investigating possible embezzlement in the top two divisions, Dutch news agency ANP reported.

"The truth should come out," ANP quoted Kesler as telling reporters. Kesler did not rule out the possibility that illegal practices existed in Dutch professional football.

"But we have never run into strange situations during a match such as a quick red card or a strange pass to the goalkeeper.

"We know they bet on anything in China, so everything is possible. It has happened before in Germany, Belgium and Italy," he said.

"As long as there are no established punishable practices, I continue to consider our competition clean."

Last year, German referee Robert Hoyzer was sentenced to two years five months in prison after admitting fixing matches.

Offices of Italian champions Juventus, who are being investigated over allegations of match-fixing, were searched on Thursday by local tax police.