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By ESPN Staff

Dutch fear power protest could hit Euro 2008 hopes

AMSTERDAM, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Protest action by Dutch power workers could lead to the national team being fined and possibly excluded from Euro 2008, the Dutch football federation KNVB warned on Friday.

The union of Dutch power workers LME said they would cut off electricity supplies in and around the Eindhoven stadium during a Sept. 6 Euro 2008 qualifier against Belarus to protest against a controversial power bill.

The KNVB said it would try to block the protest and file a lawsuit against the energy workers' union.

'The KNVB understands the action is in the interest of (energy) employees but it should not cause disproportional damage to third parties who are not involved at all,' KNVB director Henk Kesler said in a statement.

'Not only will this qualifier be considered by UEFA as a loss but moreover the KNVB would face disciplinary measures, such as deduction of points, fines and even expulsion from Euro 2008,' the federation said.

'KNVB will also suffer direct damage from loss of income from television rights and receipts'.

The power workers union said they were protesting against a government bill which plans to force power utilities to spin off their network grids from commercial and production activities.

The LME fears the move would lead to thousands of job losses and higher power bills.

Economy Minister Joop Wijn, whose ministry has drafted the bill, called on the LME to cancel the planned protest.