Croatian police charge 21 over match-fixing

ZAGREB, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Croatian police have charged 21 people, including three former top-flight players, for involvement in a match-fixing and betting scam, a police statement said on Monday.

The players were identified in the statement only by initials.

The statement said three people had been charged as organisers of the scam. Of the 21 people charged, 19 were Croatians and two Slovenians, the statement said.

"We have charged three persons for organising several players, coaches and managers in Croatia's first football league, who were promised and then given certain amounts of money for fixing soccer games," the statement said.

The police detained 22 people in June for questioning in the case.

Croatia recently stepped up the fight against corruption and organised crime - a key condition for EU accession talks that it hopes to complete next year - and some top managers and former government officials have been sentenced for graft or are under investigation.

Last year police in Germany, Britain, Austria and Switzerland cracked down on a match-fixing ring in what UEFA called the biggest betting scandal in Europe.