Italian police have detained some 50 people, including team managers, players and a suspected Calabrian mobster, accused of fixing dozens of football matches in the country's third division and its top semi-pro league.

The investigation began when police tapped the telephone of a member of the Iannazzo mob family in Calabria, discovering that he was arranging matches in order to make money by betting on them, a police official told Reuters.

The probe demonstrates there was a heinous pact of corruption in the world of soccer

Andrea Grassi, Investigator for Italy's elite SCO

Police across Italy rounded up suspects in the early hours - including 27 team presidents and managers, 17 players, five coaches, and one police officer - and raided club offices.

"The probe demonstrates there was a heinous pact of corruption in the world of soccer," Andrea Grassi, investigator for Italy's elite SCO, an Italian anti-mafia police unit, said.

"It shows the interest of criminal networks in the business generated by soccer and the legal betting industry."

The charges included conspiracy to commit sporting fraud, which in some cases favoured organised crime groups.

The continuing investigation also includes second division, or Serie B, games, police said.

Investigators suspect 28 Lega Pro and Serie D matches from the 2014-15 season were rigged. Among those sought by police for bribing players and coaches were Serbs, Albanians and Maltese nationals.

Italy has been rocked by other match-fixing scandals in recent years. Mafia groups have increasingly tapped into the country's legal gambling industry, Europe's largest, as a way to earn and launder money.

Source: Reuters