In all, 13 clubs in Italy’s top two divisions have been punished in the standings this season with point deductions.
Antonio Conte, the coach of defending Serie A champion Juventus, completed in December a four-month ban for failing to report fixing when he guided Siena two seasons ago.
In other countries as well, match-fixers go free because there aren’t laws on the books or it is not considered a serious crime.
In November, three players in Switzerland were acquitted in a match-fixing case, and the country’s Football Association said the criminal code needs to be updated. The judge ruled that an online betting scam did not yield a victim.
Di Martino was drawn into the case when it was still believed to be the more serious crime of a drugging incident, thus enabling him to use investigative practices that might not have been employed for match-fixing.
‘‘Criminal association allows phone taps, but it’s not like you automatically have proof of criminal association, so it’s nearly impossible to do phone taps unless you have much, much bigger reasons to,’’ he said.
Di Martino previously worked on terrorism and organized crime cases when he was based in Brescia until 2008.
‘‘It was a fortunate combination that led to all this, and it’s unlikely to happen again,’’ he said. ‘‘Once this trial is held, if they don’t change the rules of the game, it’s unlikely you'll see trials like this again.’’
For prosecutors, there are several ways to prove match-fixing — the best being confessions by players and fixers alike in the same case. That happened in Croatia in 2010, when local police, tipped off by prosecutors in Bochum, Germany, put a wiretap on fixer Vinko Saka’s phone and started reeling in the co-conspirators. Fifteen players, coaches and officials went on trial for match-fixing there, and the police wiretaps were so extensive that several of them pleaded guilty. Saka himself got a plea deal from prosecutors that also required him to testify about match-fixing in Italy.
The Bochum case, which led to investigations in other European countries, was built on wiretaps requested on convicted match-fixer Ante Sapina when he was released from prison following a German refereeing scandal that broke in 2005.
Turkish police also used extensive wiretaps in their case in 2012 charging 93 people, including senior soccer officials, with match-fixing.
Prosecutors can also build evidence from money transfers.
Sometimes players report to police that they have been approached by fixers, and the subsequent investigation uncovers match-fixing.
In 2011, Serie B player Simone Farina was offered 200,000 euros ($260,000) to influence the outcome of an Italian Cup match between Cesena and his club, Gubbio. Farina refused and reported the incident to the police. He was widely applauded, and FIFA made him an ambassador in its fight against fixing, but the whistleblower had trouble finding a club and retired before moving to England’s Aston Villa in a coaching role.
‘‘My vision is that one day, the decision I made will not be treated as the exception, but rather the rule,’’ Farina said in a recent speech.
The confessions of convicted Singaporean fixer Wilson Perumal also provided valuable source material after his arrest in Finland.
On-field behavior — blatant referee or player mistakes — can really only be used as corroborating evidence, because there can be legitimate reasons for poor performance.
However, there might be grounds to investigate if all the scoring in one game is due to questionable calls by a referee, or if online betting monitors notice unusual in-game spikes in wagering, or if the game’s unexpected result keeps a team from being demoted to a lower league.
The most successful match-fixing is opaque — a win by a team that is expected to win, a loss by a team expected to lose, an unusual outcome in an exhibition or ‘‘friendly’’ match that doesn’t count in the standings.
Sophisticated match-fixers now use scores of smaller bets on a fixed game instead of one large wager, and they often wait until the last minute to lock in the odds before betting companies can notice shifts.
Widespread soccer scandals are not new in Italy. Court cases are still going on from a 2006 match-fixing inquiry dubbed ‘‘Calciopoli,’’ which involved clubs putting pressure on referees and led to 28-time Italian champion Juventus’ relegation to the less-prestigious Serie B, as well as penalties for a handful of other clubs.
The last major betting scandal in Italy was in 1980, when there were also numerous arrests and bans for club officials and top players, including Paolo Rossi, who returned to lead Italy to the 1982 World Cup title.Continued...