South China Morning Post says a “breakdown in communication” over mandatory national service resulted in Singapore’s great football hope Ben Davis joining Thailand instead of Singapore’s football team for this year’s Southeast (SEA) Games.
The Hong Kong daily says an earlier tit-for-tat between Davis’ father, Harvey, and the Mindef exacerbated the situation, with the youngster eventually choosing Thailand – his mother’s home country.
The ministry was quoted in local media as saying the 18-year-old Thailand-born Davis “defaulted from his National Service obligation,”
For that, the youngster was liable for a fine of up to S$10,000 (US$7,200) and a maximum of three years in prison.
It says Singapore netizens have largely rallied around Davis, who plays for Fulham in the English Championship.
Singaporeans did not flinch in their support for the youngster after he was called up to the Thai squad.
The paper quoted Shamir Osman, a former journalist and close observer of Singapore football, saying the national service was the critical factor.
He says for him, it was the breakdown in communication. The authorities in Singapore have a bit of an iron fist and his dad is English, “he didn’t quite grasp the way things are done.”
Shamir says what caused the problems was when Davis’ father made the comment that “if the boy had to relinquish his citizenship that was something they would consider.”
“That pushed things over the edge, with Mindef saying the father couldn’t give a definite timeline for his son’s return, which in a way was a fair comment. What they needed to do was sit down and draw up milestones and KPIs and if he hits them then he can carry on. It’s a shame that it has come to this.”
The story also made headlines in Indonesian sports blogs.
Football Tribe reported on how the youngster was the focus of a fight between Singapore and Thailand.
The blog says the Fulham youth midfielder Ben Davis was the focus of two Southeast Asian football giants, Singapore and Thailand.
But instead of defending Singapore, the 18-year-old’s made it to the Thai provisional squad for the 2019 SEA Games in Manila, Philippines.
Benjamin James Davis was born in Phuket 18 years ago. His father is a British citizen while the mother is a Thai national.
“From here it is clear that by following the laws of the Ius sanguinis in the football world, Ben has two rights to defend the British or Thai national team. But why is Singapore fighting over him, too?” asks the blog.
The story begins with Harvey Davis’ father helping his family move to Singapore when Ben is 5 years old.
Harvey then founded a private soccer school called JSSL (Junior Soccer School & League) that houses more than 300 young footballers to pursue a career in the football world. The school partners with Fulham and local club Tampines Rovers.
The blog says in 2017 Ben received a two-year scholarship at Fulham academy, appearing 10 times in the U-18 South League and even posting a 90 percent accuracy record.
The Lions got wind of Ben’s great performance as he was offered a professional contract by Fulham.
Last August, Ben was fielded by Fulham in the English League Cup or the Carabao Cup.
While Ben’s father and mother, Sopee Davis, did not change their nationalities, Ben was given the chance to play for Singapore’s U-16 and U-19 teams for which he made 6 appearances since 2015.
But to gain full Singapore citizenship, he has to register for the compulsory National Service.-/TISG