The Hague (AFP) - Former Dutch star Patrick Kluivert, currently director of football at French club Paris Saint-German, owed up to one million euros to a criminal gang after racking up debts betting on football, a Dutch newspaper said Saturday.
De Volkskrant said the gang applied threats to pressure Kluivert in order to recoup the debt which he had repaid in part.
The newspaper said investigators had no proof the former player was involved in illegal match-fixing and his lawyer was quoted as saying his client was "only a victim in this affair."
Prosecutors arrested five suspects in February in connection with the affair and during their probe uncovered documents linking the gang to Kluivert, who was called in for questioning, but "purely as a witness," his lawyer Gerard Sprong insisted.
The newspaper, citing confidential judicial documents and anonymous sources, said Kluivert, the coach of Dutch club FC Twente's reserve team at the time, placed bets on the first team's games in 2011 and 2012.
The activity was not illegal at the time, the newspaper said, but the former Barcelona star striker lost heavily, and has since repaid part of the debt.
However, the criminal gang was engaged in match-fixing, and applied "enormous pressure" on Kluivert" to repay the debt in full," the paper said.
It said the gang threatened to release a tape in which Kluivert, 40, a former assistant Dutch national coach, is heard discussing the debt.
Contacted by AFP, Paris Saint-German said they had no comment on a matter "that does not directly concern the club."