2/18/2019 8:52:20 PM (GMT+3)

Singapore's first Premiership footballer faces jail

Singapore

SINGAPORE: Singapore's Ben Davis, who became his country’s first footballer to sign with an English Premier League club, faces up to three years in jail if convicted.

According to the authorities, Davis has missed his mandatory national service and may face imprisonment.

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.

Davis has signed a two-year deal with Fulham in July at the age of 17, but Singapore's government said he could not defer his national service to pursue his sporting dream.

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

Davis had “failed to report for national service as required. He is also staying overseas without a valid exit permit," the ministry said in a statement.

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