Fresh match-fixing probe in Spain
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The Spanish league has opened an investigation into a second-division match between Racing Santander and Hercules for possible match-fixing.
League spokesman Juan Carlos Santamaria told The Associated Press on Thursday that the league is examining Racing's 3-0 home win over Hercules on June 8.
Racing denied any wrongdoing and defended its players, while Hercules refused to comment.
This league-led probe comes while state prosecutors are continuing to look into an alleged match fix between first-division sides Levante and Deportivo La Coruna in April.
Santamaria said the investigation into the Racing-Hercules game was launched on July 3 after the league received a report from a bookmaker that ''warned there had been suspicious bets'' placed on the game. Spanish media reports had pointed to a separate report issued by European football's governing body, but Santamaria said the league's investigation had not been instigated by UEFA.
''This is an issue that concerns the league,'' Santamaria said. ''Although these cases are minimal, we still have to fight against them to keep the competition clean.''
The investigation is being carried out by an independent committee of legal experts who have unlimited time to pursue evidence and the power to summon clubs officials for questioning.
If a club is found to have participated in match-fixing, it can be expelled from official competition.
The league has asked the Spanish federation to open its own investigation into the players involved in the Racing-Hercules match because the league's jurisdiction only extends to the clubs and their officials.
Spokeswoman Susana Barkero told the AP that the federation's legal advisers are studying the league's petition and will decide whether or not to pursue a separate investigation.
Racing said in a statement that it wants ''to manifest its absolute rejection of any conduct that strays from the principles of fair play which have always characterized its actions and that it is committed to protecting the integrity of the sport.''
Despite winning the match played on the season's final day, Racing still dropped into the third division for its second consecutive relegation.
Hercules spokeswoman Sandra Canamares told the AP the club had nothing to say.