Match fixing 'cancer' hasn't been eliminated - Italian prosecutor

The prosecutor at the head of recent investigations into match fixing in Italian football has said he had never imagined the extent to which games were being manipulated and warned: "The cancer has not been eliminated."

Several different investigations, some of which involve high-profile figures such as current Italy boss Antonio Conte and Lazio captain Stefano Mauri, discovered that fixtures from as high as Italy's Serie B -- the second division -- had been fixed for betting purposes.

Roberto Di Martino was prosecutor at the sporting trials and he says what he saw opened his eyes to the depth of the problem.

"We certainly did not expect what we discovered," he told Italy's La Stampa newspaper. "We found things such as tranquilisers in the urine samples of Cremonese players, and then the recordings of telephone calls revealed a worrying scenario of fixed games, corrupt players, crooked directors and people financing them with huge resources.

"The manipulation [of games] was an industry."

Di Martino said he believes that industry is still alive, even if things may have gone quiet in recent years while the investigations have been taking place.

"I think there has been a momentary dip, but then betting on games is on the rise again," he said. "The cancer has not been eliminated. The number of games involving suspicious [betting] movements is enough to convince me that the phenomenon is far greater than it seems."

His fears were backed up by the general secretary of the Federbet organisation of international bookmakers, Francesco Baranca, who showed La Stampa three matches that had shown irregular flows of betting activity, and they watched as the expected results materialised.

Those games took place in Malta, Portugal and Romania, but Di Martino fears that games from Italy's third division -- Lega Pro -- may also be targets for match-fixing.

Odds for most games from below Serie B are no longer offered by Italian bookmakers.