Fulham teenager could face jail time after failing to report for national service


Singapore’s Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) said on Monday that the 18-year-old had failed to report for National Service, an offence that could earn him a conviction of up to three years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000 (around £5,700).

The midfielder signed a two-year deal with the Cottagers last summer, becoming the first Singaporean to pen a professional contract with a Premier League club.

He applied to defer his enlistment in national service but was rejected, with authorities saying he didn’t “meet the criteria for deferment” as his situation was “no different from the personal pursuits by other pre-enlistees like university studies or working in other professional fields".

The FAS supported Davis’s request of deferment at the time, but were critical of the young midfielder after his failure to report on Monday.

"It is thoroughly irresponsible on the part of Mr Davis, and also reneges on his (and his father’s) assurance to the FAS that Mr Davis would discharge his NS commitments and play for the Singapore national team," a spokesman for FAS said to Channel News Asia. (opens in new tab)

"Mr Davis had lived in Singapore for many years, and has benefited from the resources used to educate and train him as a footballer over this period of time," the spokesman added.

"He was invited to play for the Singapore national team, and he agreed. The FAS had supported Benjamin Davis’s application to defer NS on this basis.

"While the matter will now be dealt with by MINDEF, the FAS wish to state categorically that we do not condone such conduct, nor did it ever arise in our discussions with Mr Davis that he would seek to avoid his liability."

MINDEF said that Davis is staying overseas without a valid exit permit and has committed offences under the Enlistment Act, adding that he “is liable under conviction to a fine of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 3 years”.

All Singaporean men over the age of 18 must serve in the armed forces, police or civil defence for two years as part of their national service requirements and Davis turned 18 on November 24 last year.

Davis is yet to make a senior appearance for Fulham, but has featured for their under-18 side 10 times this season.

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Alasdair Mackenzie is a freelance journalist based in Rome, and a FourFourTwo contributor since 2015. When not pulling on the FFT shirt, he can be found at Reuters, The Times and the i. An Italophile since growing up on a diet of Football Italia on Channel 4, he now counts himself among thousands of fans sharing a passion for Ross County and Lazio.