Fulham teen to play for Thailand amid Singapore conscription row

2019-10-03 08:17
Ben Davis
Ben Davis (Getty Images)

Singapore - Singapore's first English Premier League footballer looks set to play for Thailand in the Southeast Asian Games, after the city-state warned he could face jail for skipping national service.

Ben Davis signed a two-year deal with Fulham last year at the age of 17, but Singapore's government refused to allow him to defer mandatory national service.

He will join Thailand's under-23 squad for the Southeast Asian Games, in the Philippines in November and December, according to a provisional squad list posted by the Football Association of Thailand on its website.

Davis had previously represented Singapore at the under-16 and under-18 levels. 

While he is a Singapore citizen, local media reported he was born on the Thai holiday island of Phuket to a Thai mother and a British father and only moved to the city-state aged five.

All Singaporean men aged 18 must serve two years in the military, the police or the emergency services, an obligation authorities rarely let people skip.

The defence ministry warned earlier this year that Davis could face up to three years in jail if convicted of violating the enlistment act. 

He could also face a fine of up to Sg$10,000 ($7 200). 

The ministry said Davis did not meet the criteria to skip national service when it refused his application to defer it last year.

The refusal to allow Davis to miss national service fuelled a debate about whether the conscription system is too strict in the city-state, where the Premier League is hugely popular.

In the past 15 years, only three athletes, including Olympic champion swimmer Joseph Schooling, have been given permission to miss national service, according to the Straits Times newspaper.

The biennial Southeast Asian Games is a multi-sport tournament attended by thousands of athletes from around the region.

Read more on:    fulham  |  championship  |  english premiership  |  soccer


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


The 2018/19 Absa Premiership season is in full swing. Will Mamelodi Sundowns retain their title? Or can one of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Wits, SuperSport United - or another team perhaps - snatch glory from the Brazilians? Be sure to visit Sport24 for all the latest news!

Latest blogs

After Stuart Baxter stepped down as Bafana Bafana head coach, who would you like to see take over?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.